How long do changes last?

Taste and smell changes are rarely permanent, so most will resolve with time.

Chemotherapy – You might notice that symptoms change during the course of a single chemotherapy cycle. For example, flavour problems are usually worse in the first week after chemotherapy and then gradually improve until the next chemotherapy cycle.

Studies have shown that when people receive chemotherapy as the only type of cancer treatment, taste and food enjoyment usually returns to normal two months after treatment has finished.

Radiation therapy – People who receive radiation therapy to the head or neck area can experience longer lasting problems, particularly if it causes ongoing problems with saliva flow.

Keep a diary noting the symptoms you are experiencing and when they occur, particularly the time of day, the stage of treatment cycle, and with what food and drink. This will assist your treatment team to identify the causes and to find ways for you to manage the changes.

This information was last reviewed in February 2015
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