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Common Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy From Cancer Treatment


Common Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy From Cancer Treatment


Chemotherapy is often tough, sometimes so tough that the treatment may seem worse than the disease. Peripheral neuropathy is an umbrella term that describes sensory changes associated with nerve damage. The specific symptoms of peripheral neuropathy from cancer treatment vary from person to person.

Numbness and hypersensitivity

The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in general, and that associated with chemotherapy specifically, are numbness and hypersensitivity. They can occur together, leaving a patient unable to feel her legs, for example, but with hand hypersensitivity that makes holding anything painful.


In addition to sensory issues, pain crops up quite frequently as a symptom of peripheral neuropathy. Unlike the sensory changes described above, pain is often managed effectively with physical therapy or opioid medication.

Compromised motor function

Motor problems are generally not associated with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, but this does happen occasionally. Symptoms include worsening of the fatigue already associated with chemotherapy, cramping - especially at the site where the chemotherapy drugs are administered, difficulty keeping balance and walking, and involuntary twitching in the muscles. Many of these symptoms are managed with additional medication.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy often subside slowly or not at all, even if chemotherapy is withdrawn, so patients may need to manage the symptoms for the rest of their lives. In addition to the drugs already available, research is underway for promising new treatments for peripheral neuropathy, including two types of nerve stimulation meant to promote healing of the damaged nerves. Once the cancer is defeated, it is often possible to return to a semblance of normalcy.

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