Peripheral Neuropathy Caused By Chemotherapy

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Can CIPN be prevented?

Many treatments have been used to try to prevent chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Below is a list of some of the treatments that have been tried. So far, study results have been mixed for these treatments, and more research is needed.

  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium and magnesium
  • Some anti-seizure drugs, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Some antidepressants, such as venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Glutathione

Other substances, such as certain vitamins, dietary supplements, and other drugs are also being looked at to see if they can help protect nerve cells from damage. Many of these are being studied as supplements given before and after chemo.

So far, there’s no sure way to prevent CIPN. But this is a major problem for some people, and doctors are looking for medicines that work. A lot of research is being done in this area. Clinical trials are needed so that volunteers can help researchers find out more about what helps. Talk with your doctor if you are interested in getting into a clinical trial looking at CIPN.

What can be done to help lower the risk of CIPN?

There are some things that your doctor may do to try to lower your risk of CIPN. For instance

  • Instead of giving one large chemo dose once a week, smaller doses may be given 2 or 3 times a week.
  • The same dose may be given over a longer time, such as over 6 hours instead of 1 hour.
  • The chemo may be given as a non-stop, very slow infusion over a few days.
  • For certain problems, drug doses may be reduced while preserving most of the good effects.

Doctors may also try a stop-and-go treatment plan. This treatment gives chemo until a certain dose is reached, or until CIPN reaches a certain level. Then the treatment is stopped until the CIPN gets better or until the cancer seems to be growing again. When this happens the chemo is restarted, often at a lower dose than before. This approach is now being studied to see how it affects CIPN and treatment outcomes.

Last Medical Review: 03/18/2015
Last Revised: 03/18/2015