The trajectory of neurotoxic side effects' impact on daily life: a qualitative study

Support Care Cancer. 2016 Aug;24(8):3455-61. doi: 10.1007/s00520-016-3179-1. Epub 2016 Mar 19.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxic side effects among patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and how these side effects influenced their daily lives over time.

Methods: To assess neurotoxic side effects, ten patients were repeatedly interviewed. The patients were recruited from two hospitals in south of Sweden, had stage II-III CRC, and had been treated with adjuvant oxaliplatin postoperatively, from November 2013 to October 2015. They had received FOLFOX and XELOX, with a mean total dose of 791 mg oxaliplatin. After completed chemotherapy, at 3, 6, and 12 months into the post-treatment phase, 25 interviews were conducted and thematic analysis was used according to Braun and Clarke.

Results: Oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity affects patients in several ways in the long term. Four themes were identified: Expectation of cure, Dubiety, Normalization, and Learn to live with neurotoxicity. The findings of this study describe the trajectory of neurotoxicity and its impact on these patients' life situation. The findings confirmed that neurotoxicity is multi-faceted and that the experience of it changes over time.

Conclusion: The desire to survive stimulates adaptations and strategies to manage daily life, and patients learn to live with the neurotoxic side effects. This study provides evidence that these patients need individual attention and support during the trajectory of neurotoxic side effects. Current care provision is inadequate due to a lack of knowledge of the ways in which neurotoxicity impacts the patient's daily life. This study provides insights that could be used to develop a more person-centered care.

Keywords: Adjuvant chemotherapy; Colorectal cancer; Neurotoxicity; Oxaliplatin; Qualitative interviews; Thematic analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / complications*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / drug therapy*
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / pharmacology
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Qualitative Research


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • Oxaliplatin