Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neurotoxicity: a critical analysis

CA Cancer J Clin. 2013 Nov-Dec;63(6):419-37. doi: 10.3322/caac.21204.


With a 3-fold increase in the number of cancer survivors noted since the 1970s, there are now over 28 million cancer survivors worldwide. Accordingly, there is a heightened awareness of long-term toxicities and the impact on quality of life following treatment in cancer survivors. This review will address the increasing importance and challenge of chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity, with a focus on neuropathy associated with the treatment of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, testicular cancer, and hematological cancers. An overview of the diagnosis, symptomatology, and pathophysiology of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy will be provided, with a critical analysis of assessment strategies, neuroprotective approaches, and potential treatments. The review will concentrate on neuropathy associated with taxanes, platinum compounds, vinca alkaloids, thalidomide, and bortezomib, providing clinical information specific to these chemotherapies.

Keywords: chemotherapy; neuropathy; neurotoxicity; survivorship.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Survivors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Neuroprotective Agents