Peripheral Neuropathy Caused By Chemotherapy

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Can CIPN be prevented?

Many treatments are 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 all of these treatments, and more research is needed.

Vitamin E: Some studies have shown that this antioxidant may protect nerves from the damage caused by cisplatin and paclitaxel.

Calcium and magnesium: One small study showed patients who were given calcium and magnesium infusions before and after oxaliplatin reported less CIPN.

Anti-convulsants: The anti-seizure drug carbamazepine (Tegretol®) is being studied to see if it can help prevent or treat CIPN.

Other substances: Vitamins, supplements, substances made by our bodies, and other drugs are also being looked at to see if they can help protect nerve cells from chemo damage. This includes things like amino acids and proteins. 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 treatments 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 6 hours instead of over 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 stop-and-go treatment is now being studied to see how it affects CIPN and treatment outcomes.

Last Medical Review: 03/08/2013
Last Revised: 04/02/2013