Open Access Research article

Preliminary estimation of the prevalence of chemotherapy-induced dysgeusia in Japanese patients with cancer

Hiroo Imai, Hiroshi Soeda, Keigo Komine, Kazunori Otsuka and Hiroyuki Shibata*

Author Affiliations

Department of Clinical Oncology, Graduate School of Medicine, Akita University, Hodo 1-1-1, Akita, Akita, Japan

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BMC Palliative Care 2013, 12:38  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-12-38

Published: 29 October 2013



Although dysgeusia is a common adverse event in chemotherapy patients; it has not been evaluated using objective methods, and its prevalence and frequency have not been quantified.


Salt-impregnated taste strips were used to objectively assess dysgeusia in patients receiving chemotherapy at Akita University (n = 38) and those off chemotherapy (n = 9). Participant characteristics, and ongoing and previous chemotherapies were evaluated, and their associations with dysgeusia analyzed.


Dysgeusia developed in 38.8% (14/38) of chemotherapy patients, and was most prevalent in patients receiving 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or its oral analogs (48.1%, 13/27). Particularly, dysgeusia developed in 55.6% (10/18) of patients receiving oral 5-FU analogs; however, prevalence in patients receiving and off chemotherapy was not significantly different. Patients aged ≥70 years also tended to experience dysgeusia (75.0%, 6/8).


Association with dysgeusia may be higher for some chemotherapeutic drugs. Dysgeusia should be routinely assessed in chemotherapy patients with objective methods such as paper strips; interventions for its prevention may be required.

Taste alteration; Dysgeusia; Quality of life; Oral 5-fluorouracil analogs; Paper test strip