Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 333–349 | Cite as

Sensory preferences of supplemented food products among cancer patients: a systematic review

  • Blanca E. Enriquez-Fernández
  • Sara Nejatinamini
  • Sandra M. Campbell
  • Vera C. Mazurak
  • Wendy V. WismerEmail author
Review Article



Oral nutritional supplements and fortified foods, here considered supplemented food products (SFP), are recommended as part of nutrition therapy guidelines to treat malnutrition among cancer patients. However, their successful use is limited by patients’ failure to meet recommended intakes. This systematic review aimed to identify sensory preferences for SFP among cancer patients and evaluate the methodologies employed in sensory preference assessment.


A systematic search was conducted in several relevant databases yielding 1056 papers of which 19 met the inclusion criteria. Two authors independently selected papers and extracted findings. The included papers were categorized according to the focus of the preference assessment.


Studies comparing sensory preferences for SFP of cancer patients with those of a control group suggested that the liking for SFP by cancer patients differs from healthy participants. Patient heterogeneity in site and stage of tumor, variation in study methodologies, and type of treatment complicated a conclusion regarding the effects of cancer treatment and taste changes on taste preferences. However, some general results were observed among the studies, such as the preference for fresh milk-based supplements when compared with other supplement types.


This review highlighted the need for consistent reporting and control of variables that influence the sensory characteristics of SFP when sensory preferences are assessed in the clinical setting. Attention to these methodological details will enhance the reliability and accuracy of sensory preference assessment among cancer patients for realistic evaluation of SFP targeted to their nutritional needs.


Acceptability Cancer Compliance Fortified foods Oral nutritional supplements Taste change 



We acknowledge Lea Ruch and Isabella Carneiro for translating a research paper from French and Portuguese language, respectively.

Author contributions

SC performed the literature search. BEF and SN reviewed all search results and generated the first draft of the manuscript. WW and VM guided formation of and contributed text to the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. BEF received a fellowship from the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional ScienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.University of Alberta LibrariesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural, Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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