Quantitative Sensory Testing at Baseline and During Cycle 1 Oxaliplatin Infusion Detects Subclinical Peripheral Neuropathy and Predicts Clinically Overt Chronic Neuropathy in Gastrointestinal Malignancies

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There is a need for early identification of patients who will develop chronic oxaliplatin neuropathy. We used quantitative sensory testing (QST), a noninvasive and commercially available test of nerve fiber function, to show that patients with a preexisting subclinical neuropathy and those in whom subclinical neurologic deficits develop with cycle 1 oxaliplatin infusion are at highest risk for the development of chronic clinically significant neuropathy.


Oxaliplatin neurotoxicity has a spectrum of manifestations from an often reversible acute neurotoxicity to a more irreversible “stocking and glove” chronic neuropathy that is associated with high morbidity. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is a noninvasive psychometric testing method that can potentially be used in the clinic setting to measure subclinical neurologic changes early on to identify patients that will experience chronic oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy at 1 year.

Patients and Methods

Thirty patients with gastrointestinal malignancies who were receiving oxaliplatin were recruited. QST and patient-reported outcomes were assessed at baseline; during infusion cycles 1, 2, 4, and 6; and at 1 year. National Cancer Institute Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (NCI CTCAE), version 4.0, chronic neuropathy scores were assessed at the 1-year time point. The variables at each time point were evaluated for prediction of 1-year chronic neuropathy scores.


We found that patients with preexisting subclinical neuropathy were more likely to experience grades 2 and 3 chronic neuropathy than were those who did not have this condition (heat detection threshold, Spearman correlation coefficient (rs) = 0.39; P = .037; pellet retrieval time, rs = 0.47; P = .024). Patients in whom thermal and cutaneous sensory deficits developed with cycle 1 infusion were also more likely to experience grades 2 and 3 neuropathy at 1 year (cold detection threshold, rs = 0.50; P = .007; heat detection threshold, rs = 0.39; P = .042; cutaneous detection threshold, rs = 0.42; P = .043).


QST provides a noninvasive, commercially available, and feasible clinical test to select patients, even before oxaliplatin treatment, who are likely to experience moderate to severe chronic peripheral neuropathy.

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