Study shows zinc doesn't help head and neck cancer patients

April 02, 2007

Zinc sulfate, a supplement thought to be helpful in regaining the sense of taste for some head and neck cancer patients after radiation therapy, has been found to have no significant impact on preventing or curing taste alteration, according to a study released today in the International Journal for Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO.

Taste alteration is a common side effect for head and neck cancer patients after radiation therapy. For these patients, usual food flavors taste bland or different, with a few patients losing the sensation of taste altogether. Losing taste sensation can lead to a significant change in eating habits, causing some patient to avoid certain unappealing foods, sometimes leading to additional weight loss at a time when good nutrition is critical.

Previous academic studies have suggested that the use of zinc sulfate could help patients regain their sense of taste more quickly after radiation therapy. Doctors in this phase three, multi-institutional, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that giving patients a zinc sulfate vitamin supplement had little to no effect on the sense of taste for the patients in the study.

Over the course of three years, 173 patients were treated for head and neck cancer with traditional radiation therapy. Patients were divided into two groups, one group treated with zinc, the other with placebo. Both groups experienced similar degrees of taste alteration, but doctors reported that there was no significant difference in taste recovery between the groups. Only six percent of the zinc-treated group achieved complete taste recovery, compared to 18 percent in the placebo group. This study is the largest ever reported to date to evaluate zinc sulfate in the treatment or prevention of taste alteration for patients receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

"The results of this study were disappointing in that we hoped that zinc sulfate would help patients maintain their taste based on prior pilot data. However, I am glad that we were able to definitely rule out the use of zinc at this dose level so we can further explore other promising treatments to help patients maintain their quality of life during and after treatment," said Michele Y. Halyard, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz.
-end-
To learn more about head and neck cancer, visit www.rtanswers.org. To obtain a full copy of the study or to arrange an interview with Dr. Halyard, please contact Julie Barden at 1-800-962-7876 or julieb@astro.org.

ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 8,600 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

American Society for Radiation Oncology

Related Radiation Therapy Articles from Brightsurf:

Pulmonary artery thrombosis a complication of radiation therapy
According to ARRS' American Journal of Roentgenology, the imaging findings of in situ pulmonary artery thrombosis (PAT) associated with radiation therapy (RT) are different from those of acute pulmonary emboli and do not appear to embolize.

New approach for calculating radiation dosimetry allows for individualized therapy
Researchers have developed a simplified process that could enhance personalization of cancer therapy based on a single nuclear medicine scan.

Developing microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) for inoperable cancer
An innovative radiation treatment that could one day be a valuable addition to conventional radiation therapy for inoperable brain and spinal tumors is a step closer, thanks to new research led by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers at the Canadian Light Source (CLS).

Travel considerations specified for 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy patients
Researchers and patient advocates have addressed the challenges related to traveling after receiving 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy in a study published in the April issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

A new way to monitor cancer radiation therapy doses
More than half of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy and the dose is critical.

AI can jump-start radiation therapy for cancer patients
Artificial intelligence can help cancer patients start their radiation therapy sooner -- and thereby decrease the odds of the cancer spreading -- by instantly translating complex clinical data into an optimal plan of attack.

Towards safer, more effective cancer radiation therapy using X-rays and nanoparticles
X-rays could be tuned to deliver a more effective punch that destroys cancer cells and not harm the body.

Radiation therapy effective against deadly heart rhythm
A single high dose of radiation aimed at the heart significantly reduces episodes of a potentially deadly rapid heart rhythm, according to results of a phase one/two study at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

New mathematical model can improve radiation therapy of brain tumours
Researchers have developed a new model to optimize radiation therapy and significantly increase the number of tumor cells killed during treatment.

Using artificial intelligence to deliver personalized radiation therapy
New Cleveland Clinic-led research shows that artificial intelligence (AI) can use medical scans and health records to personalize the dose of radiation therapy used to treat cancer patients.

Read More: Radiation Therapy News and Radiation Therapy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.