BLACKSBURG, Va., March 30, 2009 Cancer and its therapies, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, may directly alter and damage taste and odor perception, possibly leading to patient malnutrition, and in severe cases, significant morbidity, according to a Virginia Tech Wake Forest University Comprehensive Cancer Center compilation of various existing studies. Their review appears in the March/April 2009 Journal of Supportive Oncology.
One of the purposes of the study, said Andrea Dietrich, professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at Virginia Tech, is to provide researchers and physicians with a better understanding of the types and causes of taste and odor dysfunctions so that they can develop treatments for these conditions and improve the quality of life of their patients. According to Susan Duncan, professor of food science and technology at Virginia Tech, a bad taste in the mouth can lead to poor nutrition because patients avoid eating.
Approximately two thirds of cancer patients who receive chemotherapy report altered sensory perception, such as decreased or lost taste acuity or metallic taste. Altered sensory perception causes psychological anxiety and malnutrition, and thus negatively impacts the chances of survival for cancer patients, as reported in an earlier study conducted by Duke University.
Dietrich, an expert on water quality and treatment, as well as the taste and odor assessment of water, has expanded upon her knowledge of this field to include such assessments in cancer patients. She worked with Jae Hee Hong, Susan E. Duncan, and Brian T. Stanek of Virginia Tech's Food Science and Technology Department, Pinar Omur-Ozbek, also of CEE, Yong Woo Lee of Virginia Tech's School of Biomedical Engineering and Glenn Lesser, a physician of hematology and oncology at Wake Forest.
Their joint paper, "Taste and Odor Abnormalities in Cancer Patients", reports the "alteration of taste and sm
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