Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: a review of recent findings

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Purpose of review

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common, frequently chronic condition characterized by pain and decreased function. Given the growing number of cancer survivors and an increasing recognition of opioid therapy limitations, there is a need for critical analysis of the literature in directing an informed and thoughtful approach for the management of painful CIPN.

Recent findings

A PubMed search for ‘chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy AND pain’ identifies 259 publications between 1 January 2016 and 31 March 2017. Based on review of this literature, we aim to present a clinically relevant update of painful CIPN. Notably, the use of duloxetine as a first-line agent in treatment of CIPN is confirmed. Moreover, clinical trials focus on nonpharmacologic strategies for managing painful CIPN.


Despite the volume of recent publications, there are limited preventive or therapeutic strategies for CIPN supported by high-level evidence. Duloxetine remains the only pharmacologic agent with demonstrated benefit; its clinical use should be routinely considered. Moving forward, nonopioid analgesic therapies will likely play an increasing role in CIPN treatment, but further research is necessary to confirm their utility. Promising therapies include vitamin B12 supplementation, physical therapy, and various forms of neuromodulation.

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