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Constant Annoying Odor/Smell - Is It Just Me?

bonniep's picture
Posts: 36
Joined: Jun 2010

I was diagnosed with USPC the end of April, 2010. I was scheduled for the hysterectory & removal of everything, including the malignant lymph nodes. When I woke up out of surgery, I realized there was this nauseating sweet odor, I just couldn't get rid of. I told my doctor about it but he had never heard of such a thing. No one could smell it on me or around me, so I guess everyone thought I was nuts. As I went through all my 6 rounds of chemo and 30 radiation treatments, the odor began to disappear.
As I had posted in an earlier post a little over a month ago, my USPC has recurred in a 4 x 3.5 cm mass in my supracavitucular area and my upper left & right lung lobes. Oddly, the minute I awoke from surgery to remove part of the mass to biopsy, that same sweet, obnoxious odor is back. Unfortunately, I totally associate it with the cancer and it is really bothering me since I've completed 2 more rounds of chemo and that odor is as strong as in the beginning. It literally makes me sick.

Has anyone ever had this sweet, sickening smell or am I crazy?

norma2's picture
Posts: 486
Joined: Aug 2009

I had something similar after surgery. I asked my oncologist's nurse and she said sometimes anesthesia can give us a heightened sense of smell. It went away after several weeks.

sunflash's picture
Posts: 197
Joined: Aug 2011

I noticed that same sickeningly sweet smell. But I noticed it after each chemo, and wondered if it was the actual chemo coming out of my pores. I asked my husband and he couldn't smell it.
My taste buds were also altered in that everything tasted sickeningly sweet.

I think probably both chemo and anesthesia can affect our sense of smell in this way. But I'll never forget that smell......also made me nauseas!

TiggersDoBounce's picture
Posts: 413
Joined: Oct 2009

So weird you write about this...

I remember this smell...I noticed it during my treatment months. I smelled it most when in the bathroom and never knew what to make of it. It was a smell I had never smelled before and never have after..No one else ever commented....Not sure if they were just being nice LOL...No one else has ever mentioned it before..


Posts: 141
Joined: Jan 2012

That is interesting because my six year old grandson was over this weekend and I noticed a swwet smell on his breath. It was not something I ever noticed before and it was not from anything he ate as I noticed it all day. How strange.


Posts: 38
Joined: Jan 2012

I just read that bad breath is related to cancer in the lungs, my husband always complained about my breath. Just before I started my chemo, I started to sweat a lot -considering I was hardly moving my body- and it was extremely stinky. The other weird thing I'm noticing is that only one side of my body is sweating. This includes face, hands, arm pits. It has me concerned. How will my body remove excess heat in the summer? Could I be more susceptible to a heat stroke since one side is not sweating? Questions to ask my doctor. Anyone with similar occurences?

Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2010

I have had a problem since finishing chemo with one underarm of a yuk smell even after showering & scubbing. I can wake up in the AM & have it where I can't stand it. Spoke with Dr. & just said use stronger deorderant. Only thing for me so far is cleaning with rubbing alcohol and then showering, etc. It comes and goes & it is something I fear I'll scare people off with.
Does anyone have this too?

bonniep's picture
Posts: 36
Joined: Jun 2010

I've read all of your responses and from those who have experienced this annoying situation, I can sympathize with you. Since my odor occurred at the moment I awakened out of surgery (both times), before treatment ever began, it's like the cancer (and it's sweet obnoxious odor) was set free. I've heard once you open someone up who has cancer, it spreads faster. I don't know if it is an old myth - I've heard it since I remember hearing the word cancer. I wish I could blame chemo, but it happened before chemo ever started.

I'm a pretty grounded person - I don't have a wild, vivid imagination - I'm not a hypocondriac (spelling?). I do know my body and I really try to think positive thoughts as I deal with having cancer. This time around with Chemo, though, I just don't feel good at all. The nausea seems to be under control with drugs now, but I just can't seem to snap out of this yucky feeling all the time & I blame a lot of it on that sweet, obnoxious odor I can't seem to get away from. It literally seems to make me sick. If the smell would subside, I might be able to think the chemo is working, but the odor is as strong today as it was on Jan. 6th when they cut me open to do the biopsy. I have my last Chemo on Monday & I'm praying for good results in my next scan. For me, this recurrence & treatment has been rough and I can't shake my nagative thoughts that treatment isn't working. For those of you with recurrence of USPC, have you experienced long periods of just feeling awful & tired, yet your test results showed improvement or you were NED after treatment. I'm just searching for encouragement from those who are dealing with USPC>

I Will Survive
Posts: 27
Joined: Aug 2011

I have a good friend who is an anesthesiologist - he says that there are many bizarre reactions to the drugs used and he would not rule anything out. I do know that the drugs can stay in one's system for a long time.


Shannie76's picture
Posts: 8
Joined: Feb 2012

No your not crazy, my husband just went through round 6 of 8 R chop for his stage 4 nhl lymphoma WITH bone marrow involvement, and too me he smells different smelling him after chemo its stronger but he kjust has that scent to him all the time now & i too thought it was the chemo drugs coming out of his system, but i really dont know.

I honestly started to smell it just before the NHL was diagnosed so i too thought oh my cancer has a smell but idk. I just know this was never anythign i have ever smelt before on mu husband in the 13 years weve been together.

Posts: 47
Joined: Aug 2011

I too smelled this, I don't remember when it happened during my treatment. I looked all over the house thinking I smelled anti freeze for some time. I wish I could remember the details of the timing. I thought it was around me somewhere not me. It did smell like anti freeze.I never did mention it to anyone, thinking I must be imagining it since I never did find the source. WOW marie

Hma4's picture
Posts: 38
Joined: Jan 2017

Yes like an anti freeze or something - I smelled it before I was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma 3C2 - I can't remember the last time I smelled that odor

california_artist's picture
Posts: 865
Joined: Jan 2009

almonds and chocolat, there is something I smell when I breathe in that drives me crazy. I have thought that it is related to problems the liver occassionally has clearing away toxins. No one else can smell it, and I find that the odor is present in my fingers also. I do have Raynauds, a circulatory problem which leaves me with less than a stellar amount of capillaries in my extremeties. Haven't smelled my feetzies, but there is only so much a girl can do. N'est pas?

Don't know. Just hazarding a plausible explaination.

Please excuse the spelling errors. No brain is currently functioning.

bonniep's picture
Posts: 36
Joined: Jun 2010

Where do I begin? As you can see, it's July, 2012 and I finished my 9th round of Chemo (weekly) and 20 daily radiation treatments the last week of June. A CT scan in April indicated I was responding to Chemo in my supraclivicular lymph node and my lungs, but a new spot appeared on my T7 Vertebrea. A biopsy of the Vertebrea & bone in the area reflected it was the same USPC, thus requiring a new Chemo protocol (changed from Taxol/Carbo every 3 weeks to weekly Cisplatin & daily radiation).
That sweet, obnoxious odor just will not go away. It is also in my fingers, too. Yesterday, when it was extremely strong in my fingers, I asked my husband to smell them. He could not smell anything???? I also smell an odor when entering my bedroom. I did end up anemic and got 2 pints of blood and may need a couple more, but with this last protocol, I've been soooooo exhausted and tired, I spend more time in my bedroom.
Since April, I ended up with a blocked right kidney (stint put in), two pulmonary embolisms in my lungs and blood clots in my left leg. I was in the hospital all last week. I guess my major point, I do keep having to have all sorts of injectable substances - anestseia, chemo, radioactive contrast/non-radioactive contrast for scans, etc. Could all this stuff be the culprit to this smell? It's weird. I'll feel pretty good, then this smell takes over and then I get nauseaous. My ONC has never heard of this but does listen to me.
Every day is a new day for me, with a new twist - 2 weeks ago, my ONC decided to do a chest ct scan because of this horrible pain in my back - it hurt to breathe and I was short of breath. It showed the embolisms, but the good thing - my lung mets had shrunk to 4mm and my supraclivicular node had also shrunk and can no longer be felt to the touch. Yeah! My pelvic scan done a little over a month ago showed I had the blocked right kidney, but still NED for any new cancer. Yeah. BUT yesterday, I went to my Pulmonary doctor as a follow-up from the hospital stay and she did a 'routine' chest x-ray. From the pulmonary standpoint, my lungs looked good and are responding to the blood thinners and steroids. But, stupid me - I had to ask her if she could see the lung nodules and she said yes. I inadvertently asked her if they were still 4cm (I meant to say 4mm-insignificant)but she just responded with, "no, one of them is much larger than that". So, what did she mean? cm or mm? If it's cm, then whatever is in my lung grew SIGNIFICANTLY just in two weeks. Note: The one thing I've noticed about doctors. They tend to be only interested in their specialty and even if something shows up which is not their specialty, it's no big deal. What if I had not even asked the question?
Oh well. It's like, there's never a clear cut good report - there' a new symptom, issue, etc. that must be addressed and literally adds stress to my emotional being. Today, I'm going to call and get the report to bring to my follow-up with my GYN/ONC next Monday. As far as he's concerned, I'm currently in a state of rebuilding my body up after chemo/radiation, my cancer is NED until my next scan in 1 - 3 months.
The one thing I know for sure is as long as that sweet, smell dominates my nostrils, I just can't escape the fact I still have USPC lurking in my body. I want so much to just enjoy the moment of the possibility that I'm NED, but that smell won't let me.
Thank you ladies for always letting my rant on and on - I read all your posts daily and can so relate to many of you. I just pray for each of you as you deal day to day with your cancer journey.
Just a note. I lost one of my chemo buddies last Saturday. She had Ovarian cancer and has been fighting it since 2007. My heart has been hurting for her because it was only 2 weeks ago, our ONC told her there was nothing more that could be done. Because she was such a fighter, she even mustered up enought strength to seek out one more 2nd opinion at MD Anderson the very next day, but was told the same thing. Two weeks later she's gone. USPC acts and follows the ovarian cancer path. It can be brutal, but my friend endured it all - she had 59 various chemo treatments, was part of a clinical trial, and numerous other treatment protocols. Only one month ago, you would look at her and never even know she had cancer. I pray, I have as much courage and guts to fight this to the bitter end.

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

My heart goes out to you. Enduring all the treatments and then the news you are getting about your treatment and your chemo buddy. It's alot!!

I think that docs try not to give too much info - or any info unless asked directly. Probably to spare us worry. But I agree that they seem to just see things from their specialty.

Interesting to me about the T7 vertebra. T7 is one of the major acupuncture points for uterine cancer - I go to weekly Tong Ren sessions and T7 is the first point for me!! I go to Boston next week to see the Tong Ren master and I'll let you know what happens.

You have amazing strength. And you are in my prayers,

Hugs, Mary Ann

snowbird_11's picture
Posts: 160
Joined: Oct 2011

I have been wondering how you were doing and it does, unfortunately, seem like you have been very busy. So much going on! But your are one tough lady to continue to persevere through it all. However it also sounds like you have had a great deal of success with your treatments and to be in NED status after all this is wonderful. If you could just get rid of that darn 'smell,' things would be even better. My first husband was a neurologist and patients with similar issues were referred to him for evaluation and rarely was a cause able to be determined. It is possible that some of the chemicals that you have received have caused a sensory distortion of your olfactory receptors - quite a mouthful which just means the smelling nerve endings may be a little messed up. I'd sure like to think this will resolve for you.
Continuing to send positive thoughts your way, Bonnie.

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2831
Joined: Jun 2010

Good to hear from you and to catch up on what's been going on nonetheless. I wish the stupid smell would go away and leave you alone. Have you requested a neuro consult? Hope your oncologist can put your mind at ease about lung nodules so you can continue to work on getting stronger and recovering from chemo.


Stranger with a cause's picture
Stranger with a...
Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2014

Hey , I don't have cancer or not to my knowledge anyways... But I smell this devilistic sweet smell alot.. especially here recently.. And I also get whiffs of a blood smell.. i'm gonna do some research real quick.. 

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2017

I have been experiencing this 'sweet smell' for about a month now! 

I don't know or think that I have cancer. But...it has run rampart in

my father's family and just in the last 5 years my sister got cervical cancer.

This smell is driving me crazy also and wish I had so type of answer for it.



Posts: 529
Joined: Oct 2016

Do you have any other symptoms?  Our bodies are very intuitive and you are on here in this particular segment of chat for a reason... perhaps because your sister had cervical cancer? 

I have heard about and experienced a smoke smell- however it is after chemo or after I have had a IV to remove toxins.  I get very nauseous until it clears my system.

I read the old posts above and that was very interesting.  I don't recognize anyone posting there except Double Whammy and Sunflash- looks like most of the others haven't posted since 2012-2013. 

If you are concerned you could get an appointment with your Dr. and see if they can put your mind at ease??? 

I hope you get the answers you are looking for.  Maybe someone else will be along to give you further information.  All the best :D

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2017

Hi everyone,

I have a history of cancer but also have not been diagnosed with cancer but have smelled this smell on myself and others.  I have only smelled this smell twice in my lifetime the first time being 3 years ago.  I smelled it often back then and on a lot of ppl including myself. I chalked it up to being a stomach bug bc the smell was so prevalent then, although I wasn't having any stomach bug symptoms. I went to the doctors but they didn't smell anything and didn't take me seriously and since I wasn't really having any symptoms they said I was fine.  From my experience they're are mild symptoms but they are all have to do with smell.  First there's the sweet smell that seems to seep through your pores and adheres to everything you come into physical contact with. That includes clothes, phone doorknobs, remote controls EVERYTHING. If you eat anything that has sugar or can be converted into sugar your breath has a strong sweet smell that you can almost taste, but on others it's a fruity smell. Eventually that sweet sickly smell turns "sour" it turns into a "peppery" poop smell, which also adheres to everything.I'm still not sure if its contagious but from my experience with it now I'm thinking it is. I recently took a trip to MV and it was everywhere. Ppl who don't know the smell but can smell it tend to judge you that it's a hygiene probably when in reality it's not. Like I said the smell adheres to everything including a bar of soap, towel, and loofah which makes it pretty hard to get rid of the smell once you have it.  Another thing I've noticed in my recent experience with this smell is that it was a little hard for me to detect on myself this time, but did smell it on my clothes. They smelled sweet then turned "peppery". For anyone experiencing this my best advice is to wash your clothes in hot water dark clothes included and if you have a common laundry clean the washer before and after you wash your clothes. Change your linens, towels face clothes often and disinfect everything including toothbrush, floss and rinse bc it can effect your breath, eat lots of fiber and go to the bathroom often to avoid the "peppery" smell. It will eventually go away. Im not sure if this is the same thing as the post above but since this post is the closest thing I've found to what I've experienced i hope it helps someone. I had to figure ALOT of this out on my own since there's nothing online about it. Feel free to message me or post if you've experienced any of this before.



Tutu Judy
Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2017

This is my first post. I was diagnosed with USPC stage II one year ago two weeks after my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. That's carrying togetherness too far!

I too have experienced phantom smells, or olfactory hallucinations, but it started a year before diagnosis.  My GP sent me to an ENT who ordered a sinus scan and said my olfactory nerve was damaged from chronic sinusitis. He wanted to do surgery but couldn't promise the smell would go away.

I didn't get to have the surgery because of chemo/radiation but the smell comes and goes but was the worst during chemo. I plan to see the ENT as soon as I learn if I'm NED. (First I heard the term was on this site. I'm so glad I found it.)

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
Posts: 1772
Joined: Jun 2015

Tutu Judy,

Welcome to our board. Glad you found us even if it is a bit late for you. Congrats on finishing your frontline treatment and I'm sending you loads of support and prayers for a clean scan. Please come back and let us know how you are doing. Also, ask any and all questions that may come up during your healing process.

Love and Hugs,


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