HCR.20.010 – TASTY: Taste And Smell Training in oncologY patients, to improve appetite and quality of life

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 075 How can we use sport, exercise, and nutrition to promote good health and what effects will this have?

Cancer survival rates have increased over the past decades, as a result of earlier detection and better treatment. Therefore, the number of cancer survivors is steadily increasing, and (acute and long-term) side effects of cancer treatment are becoming more and more important as they can profoundly affect quality of life.
One frequently observed side effect of chemotherapy is a change in taste (45-85%) and smell perception (5-60%). These changes occur in many cancer patient populations, are not specific to a certain type of tumor or treatment, and add to the disease-related distress experienced by patients.
Smell and taste are crucial for flavor perception of foods, inducing appetite and sensing nutrients, and changes herein may lead to loss of appetite, reduced food enjoyment, and altered food preferences. As a result, changes in olfactory and gustatory function can lead to altered dietary intake, which may eventually cause an impaired nutritional status in cancer patients, which can compromise cancer treatment and recovery. Importantly, the impact of chemosensory changes may go beyond nutritional consequences, as taste and smell are vital for identifying potential hazards and in social communication. For example, food aromas may become aversive, patients may not be able to smell that something is burning, and going out for dinner may become less enjoyable. Impairments therefore impact quality of life, everyday functioning and social life, and may even lead to depressive symptoms.
Our overall aim is to improve smell and taste alterations in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, by means of a home smell and taste training, in order to enhance appetite, food enjoyment and quality of life. As secondary objectives, we aim to investigate the effect of the intervention on nutritional status in cancer patients, and to develop an app to support the home training.


cancer, chemotherapy, eating behavior, smell, taste

Other organisations

HungerNdThirst foundation, potentially, the European Cancer Patient Coalition


Organisation Wageningen University (WUR)
Name Dr. S. (Sanne) Boesveldt
E-mail sanne.boesveldt@wur.nl