In bad taste.
Xerostomia after head and neck radiation gets a lot of attention and, in fact, is a primary rationale for employing intensity modulated radiation (IMRT). But this prospective study of 87 Taiwanese patients receiving head and neck IMRT focuses on all things taste, which is a huge determinant of nutritional (and mental!) health. And they didn’t leave taste evaluations to patient reporting alone. No sir, four whole-mouth solutions (salt, sweet, sour, and bitter) were administered at defined time points during and after radiation to objectively define the severity of chronicity of radiation-induced taste dysfunction, defined as inability to detect the correct taste only at low to moderate concentrations. Rates of taste dysfunction were 92% during radiation, 76% at 1 week out, 33% at 3 months, 9% at 6 months, and 7% at 1 year. Consistent with previous data, the dosimetric parameter most associated with taste dysfunction was a mean oral cavity dose >40 Gy. | Chen, JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2022