Chemotherapy-induced pain and neuropathy: a prospective study in patients treated with adjuvant oxaliplatin or docetaxel

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Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common side effect of cancer therapy. This study evaluates symptoms of CIPN and CIPN-related pain and its influence on psychological functioning and potential predictors of chronic CIPN and pain. In this large prospective questionnaire study, 174 patients receiving adjuvant oxaliplatin or docetaxel were consecutively included. Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire with validated questions on peripheral neuropathy, pain, anxiety and depression, and quality of life at baseline, after the first cycle, halfway through therapy, and 1 year after baseline. Chronic CIPN symptoms (tingling and/or numbness) in the feet at 1-year follow-up were present in 63.6% of patients without preexisting neuropathy in the oxaliplatin group and in 44.8% in the docetaxel group, whereas pain in hands and feet was found in 31.3% and 35.1%, respectively. Both groups had significantly different pain profiles, and persistent pain in the docetaxel group was found to have effect on psychological function. Cumulative dose predicted oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy (P = 0.004), whereas endocrine therapy predicted peripheral pain in the docetaxel group (P = 0.04). There are important differences in acute neuropathic symptoms and chronic pain profiles in patients after oxaliplatin and docetaxel treatment. It is, however, important to recognize that chronic peripheral pain may be unrelated to neuropathy and can be caused by concomitant treatments. Future studies should focus on characterizing and distinguishing CIPN-related pain from other types of pain to determine the best outcome measures for trials on prevention or relief.

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