The impact of cancer treatment on the diets and food preferences of patients receiving outpatient treatment

Kisha I. Coa, Joel B. Epstein, David Ettinger, Aminah Jatoi, Kathy McManus, Mary E. Platek, Wendy Price, Meghan Stewart, Theodoros N. Teknos, Bruce Moskowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Patients undergoing cancer treatment experience a multitude of symptoms that can influence their ability to complete treatment as well as their quality of life during and after treatment. This cross-sectional study sought to describe the dietary changes experienced by cancer patients and to identify associations between these changes and common treatment symptoms. A convenience sample of 1199 cancer patients aged 18 yr and older undergoing active treatment were recruited from 7 cancer centers to complete a self-administered paper-and-pencil survey. Descriptive analyses were conducted to estimate prevalence of dietary changes and chi-squared tests were used to examine associations between dietary changes and health outcomes. Approximately 40% of patients reported a decreased appetite since beginning treatment, and 67.2% of patients reported at least 1 chemosensory alteration. Increased taste sensitivities were more common than decreased taste sensitivities, with increased sensitivity to metallic being the most common taste sensitivity (18.6%). Patients also had increased sensitivities to certain smells including cleaning solutions (23.4%), perfume (22.4%), and food cooking (11.4%). Patients reported a wide range of food preferences and aversions. Patients who had less energy or lost weight since beginning treatment were more likely than others to report treatment-related dietary changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-353
Number of pages15
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Oncology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cancer Research


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