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Q. Can taste buds still be affected two years after completing chemo treatments?


Experiencing lingering side effects after cancer treatment is over is common and taste buds can be part of that reaction. These side effects can be especially frustrating when you expect to feel better as soon as treatment is over and especially when you are expected, by others, to return to your pre-treatment self. It is such an important quality of life issue.

Some clients have said that, over time, their taste buds returned to normal. Other people said that, over time, their taste buds had returned but were different. Share your concerns and questions about continuing taste bud side effects with your oncologist, your medical team and what can be done to address them. Also, consider speaking with the oncology nursing staff. They often have recommendations that are practical and manageable.

I’d recommend keeping a detailed daily log of the side effects you are experiencing—this makes it easier to report details to your doctor and nurse. In the log, note what the foods are and how they taste differently. Also note the times of day in your log. This may help the oncology team guide you in figuring out solutions for you.

You may also want to check out Cook For Your Life, an online food and recipe site that assists people who are in, or who have finished treatment, with foods and recipes that might be more palatable, considering the changes in tastes. Imerman Angels is a peer support program that team up people who have gone through similar circumstances. You may want to contact them to ask for a “buddy” to discuss these issues with.

Our Connect Education Workshop Communicating with Your Health Care Team After Treatment: Making the Most of Your Visit can help you prepare for your appointments.

Connecting with others in a support group for people who are post-treatment can be helpful. A support group is a place to share tips and ways of coping with other survivors who might be experiencing similar lingering side effects. We offer support groups over the telephone, online and in person (New York City area). You can also speak with a social worker who will locate groups in your area (800-813-4673).

Finally, read our publications to learn ways to cope with side effects.

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