Chemotherapy Induced Pain

Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathic Pain
Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is neuropathic pain in cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy drugs and is a relatively common side effect, occurring in as many as 30% to 90% of patients. Left untreated, it can severely compromise quality of life and daily function as well as lead patients to be less inclined to continue on with the chemotherapy treatment.iStock 000008151266 Full

Chemotherapy treatment
Chemotherapy agents are used to treat many forms of cancer because they are highly effective at killing cancer cells. There are many chemotherapy drugs which can induce peripheral neuropathy in many patients being treated for cancer.
However the chemotherapy can cause different types of pain than originally present because of the cancer. For instance, this type of treatment may cause different forms of excess pain such as burning, numbness, tingling, headaches, muscle pains, or stomach pains, which may require different forms of pain management.

Chemotherapy induced peripheral nerve damage (CIPN)
Chemotherapy can cause damage in the nerves farthest away from the spinal cord, in the peripheral areas of the feet or hands, which can severely affect daily tasks and quality of life and disrupt treatment.
The peripheral neuropathy is usually felt in the hands and feet and may be described as tingling or loss of sensation in the hands and feet, shooting or burning pain or very hot or cold temperature extremes.
This type of neuropathic pain can last weeks, months or in some cases, years. It is an unpleasant side-effect of the chemotherapy which should be treated as early as possible by your health team so that the impact on your ability to function and the pain burden are minimised.

Treatment for chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain
Currently there is a drug which has been found to be effective for CIPN called fingolimod (Gilenya) and others that are undergoing clinical trials. The active ingredient fingolimod was originally developed to treat multiple sclerosis and its benefit in treating CIPN is a secondary gain.



The Australian Pain Management Association Ltd. (APMA) is a health promotion charity providing advocacy, information and practical support for people living with chronic (persistent) pain and their families. APMA is the consumer health organisation for all Australians who live with pain. APMA is your voice.


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