What is chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy or CIPN?

Peripheral neuropathy is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the nerves that are away from the brain and spinal cord. These distant nerves are called peripheral nerves. They carry sensations (feeling) to the brain and control the movement of our arms and legs. They also control the bladder and bowel.

illustration showing the location of the cranial nerves, spinal nerves, peripheral nerves and central nervous system (brain, cerebellum, spinal cord)

Some of the chemotherapy and other drugs used to treat cancer can damage peripheral nerves. When this happens it is called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). This can be a disabling side effect of cancer treatment.

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Last Medical Review: March 18, 2015 Last Revised: May 10, 2016

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