Analysis of salivary fluid and chemosensory functions in patients treated for primary malignant brain tumors
Objectives The frequency and causes of chemosensory (taste and smell) disorders in cancer patients remain under-reported. This study examined the impact of cancer therapy on taste/ smell functions and salivary constituents in brain tumor patients. Materials and methods Twenty-two newly diagnosed patients with primary malignant gliomas underwent 6 weeks of combined modality treatment (CMD) with radiation and temozolomide followed by six monthly cycles of temozolomide. Chemosensory functions were assessed at 0, 3, 6, 10, 18, and 30 weeks with paired samples of saliva collected before and after an oral rinse with ferrous-spiked water. Iron (Fe)- induced oxidative stress was measured by salivary lipid oxidation (SLO); salivary proteins, electrolytes, and metals were determined. Parallel salivary analyses were performed on 22 healthy subjects. Results Chemosensory complaints of cancer patients increased significantly during treatment (p=0.04) except at 30 weeks. Fe-induced SLO increased at 10 and 18 weeks. When compared with healthy subjects, SLO, total protein, Na, K, Cu, P, S, and Mg levels, as averaged across all times, were significantly higher (p<0.05), whereas salivary Zn, Fe, and oral pH levels were significantly lower in cancer patients (p<0.05). Neither time nor treatment had a significant impact on these salivary parameters in cancer patients. Conclusions Impact of CMT treatment on chemosensory functions can range from minimal to moderate impairment. Analysis of SLO, metals, and total protein do not provide for reliable measures of chemosensory dysfunctions over time. Clinical relevance Taste and smell functions are relevant in health and diseases; study of salivary constituents may provide clues on the causes of their dysfunctions.