Has anyone’s sense of smell gone awry with chemo/treatment/surgery/BC?

I have an open back wound (3 months on from surgery!) and am halfway through my FEC and my sense of smell seems to be going crazy. I think I smell horrid all the time (apparently I don’t!). I know that its the smell I now associate with my wound/sweating at night but it seems to be getting worse the further I head through chemo.

I am so sensitive to this particular smell that it seems only I can smell following me around that even my clean clothes, bedding, deoderant smell of it and I feel sick at the way I smell.

I am determined that once I finish chemo and have finally healed I will change my deoderant, throw away all my clothes that lie next to my skin and bin my bedding because forever this smell will remind me of ill times and make me feel sick.

Just interested to know whether anyone else has developed a hyper-sensitivity to smell during their chemo/treatment and whether it ever goes away or whether (god forbid) if I ever smell this smell again I will immediately want to vomit and be taken back to now.

Hello ostrich

yes I had a permanent medical-y smell in my nostrils when on chemo and also my sense of smell (normally poor) became hyper-sensitive. I remember retching when there were lilies in the house. Some people find they sweat from their head and that this smells metallic. I used a pillow protector. One thing that helped me in nthe daytime was I had a little oil burner and I burned orange oil in it (or whatever scent you choose eg lavender). You will be glad to know that all is back to normal now

Good luck


Yes, me too, Ostrich

Bleach and car exhaust fumes used to make me want to heave!



Perfume is banned from my house…even Lenor makes me gag!

Can relate to this O. Lots of things make me feel sicky. Although it has varied from cycle to cycle, sometimes my body smell absolutely revolts me. Washing very frequently! Hope it passes. xx carmel

Oh yes Ostrich!
Smokers - have to hurry past them with my hand over my mouth and nose.
Thought I could smell onions cooking today - but realised it was me!
The smell of Indian food cooking makes me feel sick.
Even the thought of the smell of chocolate makes me feel very sick.
Likewise the thought of the smell of Ondansentron.

Pregnancy 10 years ago made me very sick at certain smells (especially garlic) and I am avoiding these smells now.
What about smelling something like chamomile oil or trying some lavender flowers/rose petals in a cloth bag to smell when you need to?

Hi Ostrich,

I did 4 cycles of Epirubicin and Cyclophosphomide (sp??) and found some smells almost unbearable, especially strongly perfumed ones like the handmade soap I had just treated myself to and had to get rid of almost straightaway. One advantage of moving to Taxotere (and there weren’t many in terms of side effects) is that the hypersensitivity to smells passed almost immediately. Hopefully once you finish chemo it will vanish for you too.


I’m so glad you started this post, I thought I was generaly letting myself go as I too thought I was smelling. I can totally relate to the smell of onions when I don’t even have any in the house! The only way I can describe it is how I was in hospital, not being able to wash my hair or shower properly- even though I was allowed to, but it was easier said than done with drains to carry around everywhere!! Bt I did wash myself twice a day in the best way I could And no matter how clean your clothes are they seem to smell all the time. Its a very strange thing.

Hi Ostrich
Yep - I thought I smelt too! No-one else mentioned it to me including my 2 teenage daughter who definitely would have done! I called it my chemo smell. Also my sense of smell went hyper especially on 1st FEC but it calmed down over the course of 6 but still was stronger than usual. can report all is back to normal after finishing FEC. I preferred lemony, fresh type smells, including perfume during this time and also found sucking lemon sherberts or Aqua drops really helpful especially with the nausea. Hope you are doing OK on FEC and at least you’re on the homeward stretch.
Nicky x

Thanks for your replies ladies.

Its interesting how much smell plays a part in association!

Most smells I can cope with and don’t bother me - its just me and what I now see as my “cancer” smell! I know my wound does smell a little because when the dressings come off it smells but I can smell it all the time, when I turn my head to the left - pooh! Even the smell of my tablets every day makes me feel sick. I am rapidly going off the smell of wheat bags too.

I washed my bedding again yesterday and stuck two sheets of bounce in the dryer but it still smelt horrid last night and thats with a stinking cold to boot!


Hi Ostrich - me too! I’ve always been sensitive to my ‘body smells’, even before chemo. Thats how I was the one that told my Consultant that my so called sernoma was indeed an abcess and after a scan I was prooved right!

The horrid smell that I have after chemo is a sort of sickly sweet, sweaty beddy sort of odor, I hate it. Roll on end of chemo (still 6/8 to go…ho hum). Well, off to the bathroom…!

Take good care O, nice to talk with you again, keep yer chin up mate!!

Chrissie xxx

Hi All

God this is bringing back memories - had ac chemo - aug to nov last year. Smell went haywire - once I eventually found out what the ‘foul’ smell was - had to put all my candles away. My fridge also smelled permanently rotten even tho there was nothing in there. hyper hyper sensitive - it was horrible - and that horrible mettalic taste.

Anway, unfortunnately, I have been dx with secondaries, and am now about to embark on chemo again on 28th, so god know what I will be like again.

Yeuch yeuch yeuch

Take care all