Investigating oral somatosensory perception and oral symptoms of head and neck cancer patients: insights on eating behaviour

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Sensory alterations and oral manifestations are prevalent among head and neck cancer (HNC) patients. While taste and smell alterations have been thoroughly investigated, studies on their oral somatosensory perception remain limited. Building upon our previous publication that primarily focused on objective somatosensory measurements, the present work examined self-reported sensory perception, including somatosensation and oral symptoms, in HNC patients and evaluated their link with eating behaviour. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using self-reported questionnaires on sensory perception, oral symptoms, sensory-related food preference, and eating behaviour among HNC patients (n = 30). Hierarchical clustering analysis was performed to categorise patients based on their sensory perception. Correlations between oral symptoms score, sensory perception, sensory-related food preference, and eating behaviour were explored. Results: Two distinct sensory profiles of patients were identified: no alteration (n = 14) and alteration (n = 16) group. The alteration group showed decreased preference towards several sensory modalities, especially the somatosensory. Concerning eating behaviour, more patients in the alteration group agreed to negatively connotated statements (e.g. having food aversion and eating smaller portions), demonstrating greater eating difficulties. In addition, several oral symptoms related to salivary dysfunction were reported. These oral symptoms were correlated with sensory perception, sensory-related food preference, and eating behaviour. Conclusion: This study presented evidence demonstrating that sensory alterations in HNC patients are not limited to taste and smell but cover somatosensory perception and are linked to various aspects of eating. Moreover, patients reported experiencing several oral symptoms. Those with sensory alterations and oral symptoms experienced more eating difficulties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number320
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

    Research areas

  • Eating behaviour, Head and neck cancer, Oral somatosensory perception, Oral symptoms, Questionnaire, Sensory alteration

ID: 392588899