Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy: prevention and treatment

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Sep;90(3):377-87. doi: 10.1038/clpt.2011.115. Epub 2011 Aug 3.


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common, dose-limiting side effect of many chemotherapeutic agents. Although many therapies have been investigated for the prevention and/or treatment of CIPN, there is no well-accepted proven therapy. In addition, there is no universally accepted, well-validated measure for the assessment of CIPN. The agents for which there are the strongest preliminary data regarding their potential efficacy in preventing CIPN are intravenous calcium and magnesium (Ca/Mg) infusions and glutathione. Agents with the strongest supporting evidence for efficacy in the treatment of CIPN include topical pain relievers, such as baclofen/amitriptyline/ketamine gel, and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as venlafaxine and duloxetine. Other promising therapies are also reviewed in this paper. Cutaneous electrostimulation is a nonpharmacological therapy that appears, from an early pilot trial, to be potentially effective in the treatment of CIPN. Finally, there is a lack of evidence of effective treatments for the paclitaxel acute pain syndrome (P-APS), which appears to be caused by neurologic injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pain / chemically induced*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents