Taste and smell changes

Taste and smell changes

Taste and smell changes are common when people are having cancer treatment.

You may notice that food tastes different or that you have a metallic taste in your mouth. Also the smell of some foods can be overpowering. 

Be prepared

Know what to expect

Not all people having cancer treatment will have taste and smell changes. Ask your doctor or nurse whether you are likely to get these and how to manage them.

Taste and smell changes can happen early in treatment and continue until it is finished. They usually return to normal weeks or months after treatment has finished.

Start a symptom diary

Keeping track of your symptoms can help you and your cancer care team to manage them better.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to see if there is a diary they recommend, or use the example provided on this page.

Know who to contact if you have a problem

Ask your doctor or nurse:

  • when you should call for help or advice
  • who you should contact
  • how to contact them (including at night or weekends).

Keep this information where you can easily find it.

Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Managing symptoms

Managing taste and smell changes

Taste and smell changes can affect your appetite and your enjoyment of food. There may be things you can do to manage this. 

It is important to eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids (unless you are fluid restricted). If you are having problems eating, you can ask to see a dietitian.

Checklists

Use our checklists to find helpful tips or questions to ask.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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