Changing taste and smell


A change in the way food may taste and/or smell can often be a side effect of cancer or cancer treatments. Here are a few tips and resources for improving the taste of your meals and decreasing any unpleasant odors. Patients who feel they need help managing these side effects may benefit from meeting with a registered dietitian. To learn more about these services visit Abramson Cancer Center or Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.

  • If certain foods taste bland, experiment with spices and herbs or condiments
  • Add cleaned mint, orange or lemon slices to water
  • Reduce lingering unpleasant tastes by practicing good oral hygiene
  • Suck on hard candies like lemon drops or root beer barrels
  • If you are bothered by smells while cooking ask for some help in the kitchen preparing meals or open a window or oven fan
  • Serve foods at room temperature to reduce strong smells

Learn more about taste changes during cancer treatment on OncoLink.