Association between patient reported outcomes and quantitative sensory tests for measuring long-term neurotoxicity in breast cancer survivors treated with adjuvant paclitaxel chemotherapy

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Feb;125(3):767-74. doi: 10.1007/s10549-010-1278-0. Epub 2010 Dec 3.


Neurotoxicity is a common side-effect during taxane therapy. The prevalence and severity of long-term neurotoxicity following therapy is unknown. The authors conducted a cross-sectional study of 50 consecutive patients with stage I-III BC, who were within 6 months and 2 years of completing adjuvant taxane therapy and a prospective study of 50 women initiating taxane therapy. Patients in the cross-sectional study underwent a one-time evaluation while patients in the prospective study underwent evaluation at baseline, following therapy, and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after completing therapy. Assessments included quantitative sensory testing (QST) for touch perception and vibration threshold and the FACT-GOG Neurotaxane (FACT/GOG-Ntx). For the cross-sectional study, 81% of the women reported symptoms of numbness and/or discomfort in the hands and/or feet in the past week. Severe symptoms were reported in 27% of patients for the hands and 25% for the feet. In the cross-sectional analysis, hand numbness/discomfort correlated with hand vibration QST. In the prospective study, the mean scores on the FACT/GOG-Ntx decreased from 37.5 to 28.7 post-treatment (P = 0.0002), and remained low 12 months after treatment. The changes in hand/foot numbness/discomfort were significantly associated with change in vibration threshold. No significant change was seen in touch perception. Numbness and discomfort in the hands and feet are common for up to 2 years following taxane therapy, and are associated with vibration threshold. The FACT/GOG-Ntx is an appropriate outcome measure for clinical trials evaluating ways to prevent long-term neurotoxicity in BC survivors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Paclitaxel / therapeutic use*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Prospective Studies
  • Taxoids / adverse effects
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Taxoids
  • Paclitaxel