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A Piece of My Mind
May 3, 2016

Tasteless Insights

Author Affiliations
  • 1John Hunter Hospital and University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
JAMA. 2016;315(17):1835-1836. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18355

I think it’s fair to say I took taste sensation largely for granted before I had radiotherapy for metastatic squamous cell cancer of the throat. I had long outgrown my habit of finishing every meal except breakfast with a peanut butter sandwich, but I still tended to choose wine on the basis of label and price. That has all changed.

Irradiation of oropharyngeal soft tissue produces both acute and subacute injury, including reduction or loss of gustatory sensation.1 Taste impairment or loss is usually seen with total doses greater than 30 Gy and may be permanent with total doses greater than 60 Gy.

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