Taxane-induced peripheral neuropathy has good long-term prognosis: a 1- to 13-year evaluation

J Neurol. 2012 Sep;259(9):1936-43. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6442-5. Epub 2012 Feb 17.


Taxane-induced neuropathy is a frequent complication, in particular in women with breast cancer. The incidence can be variable and ranges from 11 to 87%, depending on the taxane used and identified risk factors, such as cumulative dose, additional neurotoxic chemotherapy agents and previous nerve fragility. However, little is known about long-term outcome and interference with daily life activities. The objective of this study was to assess clinical and electrophysiological neurological evaluation (ENMG) in a cohort of patients, 1-13 years (median 3 years) after the end of the last cure. Sixty-nine women were enrolled in the lymphology unit of Cognacq-Jay's Hospital. They were 58 ± 9 years old (mean age ± SD) and had been treated by docetexel (n = 56), paclitaxel (n = 10) or both (n = 3), 1-13 years before. Sensory neuropathy occurred in 64% and totally disappeared within months for only 14% after cessation of treatment. However, if symptoms were still present at the time of examination, they were considered as minor by almost all patients, with no interference with daily life activities (grade 2 CTCAE v.3.0). ENMG was accepted by 14 patients; it was normal in 7, and showed sensory axonal neuropathy in 5 and sensory-motor neuropathy in 2. The incidence of taxane-induced neuropathy is high, more frequent with paclitaxel than docetaxel, and is characterized by minor or moderate axonal sensory polyneuropathy. When persistent, it is extremely well tolerated by the patient. When clinical motor signs occur, the patient should be referred to a neurologist.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Docetaxel
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / drug effects
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / drug effects
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Taxoids / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel