Nerve damage from chemo may affect cancer survivors for years

January 15, 2016

(HealthDay)—Many women who survive cancer have symptoms of chemotherapy-related nerve damage in their feet and hands years after treatment, a new study reveals.

Moreover, this nerve damage—called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy—is associated with an increased risk of falls, the study found.

"We can't dismiss neuropathy as a treatment side effect that goes away, because persist for years in nearly half of women," said lead author Kerri Winters-Stone, a research professor at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

The study included 462 women who had survived —including breast, lung, colon, ovarian or blood cancers. At an average of six years after cancer diagnosis, 45 percent of them still had symptoms of nerve damage, such as loss of feeling in their hands and feet.

These symptoms were associated with much poorer physical functioning and difficulty doing daily tasks, such as cooking and shopping. The women with symptoms also had changes in their walking patterns and were nearly twice as likely to fall as those without such symptoms, the researchers discovered.

Falls can cause broken bones and other injuries, and possibly lead to earlier death, the study authors explained.

The study was to be presented Saturday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in San Francisco.

"While there are no effective treatments for this side effect, rehabilitative exercise programs may preserve physical functioning and mobility in the presence of neuropathy to help prevent falls and resulting injuries," Winters-Stone said in a society news release.

ASCO spokesperson Dr. Merry-Jennifer Markham said chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy is an often under-recognized symptom among cancer survivors.

The findings of studies like this "will allow us to improve and tailor rehabilitation as needed," Markham said in the news release.

Male cancer survivors are as likely as to have chemotherapy-induced , the researchers said.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Explore further: Lymphoma survivors may not get all recommended follow-up care

More information: The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about peripheral neuropathy.

Related Stories

Lymphoma survivors may not get all recommended follow-up care

January 15, 2016
(HealthDay)—Some teen and young adult survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma do not receive all the recommended follow-up care, a new study finds.

International panel recommends new model for breast cancer care

April 20, 2012
As the number of breast cancer survivors increases, now estimated at 2.8 million, more will be living with the chronic effects of cancer treatments or with advanced disease. An international panel of experts, including a ...

YouTube videos on peripheral nerve pain may misguide patients

October 21, 2015
Researchers who combed YouTube for videos regarding peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage that causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet, found 200 videos, but only about half of them were from healthcare ...

Researchers identify gene variations that predict chemotherapy side effects

April 9, 2013
Seemingly benign differences in genetic code from one person to the next could influence who develops side effects to chemotherapy, a Mayo Clinic study has found. The study identified gene variations that can predispose people ...

Study identifies method for detecting latent stage of lymphedema

December 18, 2015
Many are aware that hair loss is a common side effect associated with chemotherapy. However, another albeit common late side effect of cancer treatment is the abnormal swelling of one or more limbs, known as lymphedema. Lymphedema ...

Research examines over-the-counter drug's effect on chemo's side effects

September 19, 2011
New research has potential to alleviate the side effects of cancer treatments.

Recommended for you

From the ashes of a failed pain drug, a new therapeutic path emerges

November 16, 2018
In 2013, renowned Boston Children's Hospital pain researcher Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, Ph.D., and chemist Kai Johnsson, Ph.D., his fellow co-founder at Quartet Medicine, believed they held the key to non-narcotic pain relief. ...

Repurposing FDA-approved drugs can help fight back breast cancer

November 16, 2018
Screening Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved compounds for their ability to stop cancer growth in the lab led to the finding that the drug flunarizine can slow down the growth of triple-negative breast cancer in ...

Traditional chemotherapy superior to new alternative for oropharyngeal cancers

November 16, 2018
A drug increasingly used in combination with radiotherapy to treat a type of cancer that forms in the tonsils or the base of the tongue is inferior to a previously favored option, according to a large, clinical trial led ...

New 'SLICE' tool can massively expand immune system's cancer-fighting repertoire

November 15, 2018
Immunotherapy can cure some cancers that until fairly recently were considered fatal. In addition to developing drugs that boost the immune system's cancer-fighting abilities, scientists are becoming expert at manipulating ...

Anti-malaria drugs have shown promise in treating cancer, and now researchers know why

November 15, 2018
Anti-malaria drugs known as chloroquines have been repurposed to treat cancer for decades, but until now no one knew exactly what the chloroquines were targeting when they attack a tumor. Now, researchers from the Abramson ...

Standard chemotherapy treatment for HPV-positive throat cancer remains the most effective, study finds

November 15, 2018
A new study funded by Cancer Research UK and led by the University of Birmingham has found that the standard chemotherapy used to treat a specific type of throat cancer remains the most effective.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.