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Neuropathy is a common adverse effect of chemotherapy. However, the both the prevalence and the burden of this adverse effect have been poorly documented. The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence and discomfort caused by neuropathic symptoms in relation to other adverse effects of chemotherapy. PATIENTS AND
Between January 2002 and June 2004, we screened 448 patients who were treated with vinca alkaloids, taxanes or platina derivatives, using a simple questionnaire of neuropathic symptoms. The response rate was 75%. Neuropathic symptoms were reported by 258 respondents (76%), of whom 152 patients were eligible for the final analyses. The severity of neuropathy was scored using the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria.
At the screening visit, 90 patients (59%) still reported neuropathic symptoms. Tingling (71%), numbness (58%), impaired sensory function (46%) and pain in hands and feet (40%) were the most common symptoms. The median intensity of neuropathic symptoms was 28/100 on the visual analogue scale. Grade 1 sensory neuropathy was found in 19 out of 90 patients (21%), grade 2 in 38 (42%) and grade 3 in 33 (37%) patients. Grade 1 motor neuropathy was found in 28 (31%), grade 2 in 14 (16%) and grade 3 in one patient (1%). Grade 4 sensory or motor neuropathy was not seen. In the whole cohort of 152 patients, fatigue (66%), mucositis (61%) and neuropathic symptoms (59%) were the most commonly reported symptoms. Every third patient (37%) with neuropathic symptoms ranked them as the most troublesome symptom.
Neuropathy is a common and troublesome adverse effect of chemotherapy, even though the intensity of the symptoms is mild. Thus, the intensity and inconvenience does not correlate to each other.
Department of Oncology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, P.O. Box 180, 00029 HUS, Helsinki, Finland.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
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