Food can taste different during chemotherapy. And some of the chemo drugs used for lung cancer can really alter your palate.
But in order to help people cope the best with this annoying side effect, we have to understand what the taste changes are all about. Is it just that food tastes different, or is it the entire experience of eating that is affected?
A new study set out to answer that question. Though the study was done on people with colon cancer treated with Eloxatin (oxaliplatin), many people receive platinum based chemotherapy drugs (such as Platinol (cisplatin) and Paraplatin (carboplatin)) and for lung cancer treatment as well.
While certainly food can taste different (hence the common descriptions of "metal mouth" and "cardboard food"), the conclusion was that the entire experience of eating was altered in a way that reduced the enjoyment of food. Chemotherapy appears to change not just taste, but the sensory and "hedonic" experience of eating.
Why is it important to know that?
It goes without saying that getting good nutrition during cancer treatment is important. Even for people who have not yet lost weight, the syndrome of cachexia can have devastating consequences.
So what can you do?
Check out the article below on coping with taste changes. What can you do to make the sensory experience of eating more enjoyable for your loved one with cancer? Is it candles? Playing soothing music during dinner? Creating an unhurried setting that allows time to savor foods slowly?
This isn't a topic that you're likely to spend vast amounts of time discussing with your oncologist, but it can make a big difference in your enjoyment of food - and subsequently the role food can play in your healing during chemotherapy.
Photo: Dreamstime.com, author Anitabonita
Boltong, A., Keast, R., and A. Sanchia. Experiences and consequences of altered taste, flavour and food hedonics during chemotherapy treatment. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2012. DOI: 10.1007/s00520-012-1398-7. Online First.