Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Mehta, Sudha Wadhwa||Parham, Ellen S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Home Economics


Breast--Cancer; Chemotherapy


A study to determine changes in taste acuity and body weight of women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy was undertaken in the Oncology Department of Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois. Approximately 50 women out-patients with Stage II breast cancer who were followed by the Oncology Department were given a combination of chemotherapeutic agents (Alkeran plus 5-Fluorouracil or Alkeran plus 5-Fluorouracil plus Tamoxifen) during a six-week chemotherapy cycle in accordance with Protocol B-09 of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project. This study was thoroughly explained to the women and 10 of the 50 women on Protocol B-09 indicated a willingness to participate in this study. These ten women were interviewed, the study was again explained, a Patient Information Sheet was given and signed informed consent was obtained. A questionnaire was presented to these women patients, asking that they rate the foods listed according to their perceived degree of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and bitterness, respectively. On the first day of each woman's chemotherapy cycle, the following procedures were done: 1. A blood sample was drawn, to be analyzed for alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, serum albumin, serum calcium, serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase, serum glutamic pyruvate transaminase and total protein. In addition, values for hemoglobin and hematocrit were determined, platelet counts were done, and total lymphocyte counts were calculated. 2. Weight in light clothing and stocking feet was taken. 3. A taste testing procedure to identify detection and recognition levels for the sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes was administered. The stimuli used to test for taste acuity and thresholds were sucrose for sweet, citric acid for sour, sodium chloride for salt, and urea for bitter tastes, respectively. Concentrations of 1, 3, 6, 10¹, 10² and 10³ mmoles/liter of each stimulus were used. Ten normal healthy women who resembled the patients in age served as control' subjects in this study. The control subjects were given the same questionnaire as the patients and taste testing to determine detection and recognition levels for sucrose, citric acid, sodium chloride and urea, respectively. The control subjects were not weighed, blood samples were not drawn for analysis and the taste test was done only on one occasion. Seven of the ten patients were noted to experience a progressive weight gain (mean 7.9 lbs.) at the third chemotherapy cycle. Weight gain continued as the chemotherapy continued. This gain in weight could not be explained by kind or dose of chemotherapy, nor by the taste acuity changes, intake of food or food preferences of the patients. Median detection and recognition levels for sucrose, citric acid, sodium chloride and urea, were not found to be different between the patients and the control subjects for all four solutes. This lack of difference in taste acuity between the patients and the control subjects was attributed to control of tumor, lack of dissimination of tumor and/or return to normal taste acuity among patients because of their response to chemotherapy. The subjective taste evaluation of commonly consumed foods showed no differences in their preference between the normal subjects and patients.


Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 75 pages




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