Purpose: Oxaliplatin and paclitaxel are commonly used chemotherapies associated with acute and chronic neuropathies. There is a need to better understand the similarities and differences of these clinical syndromes.
Methods: Neuropathy data were pooled from patients receiving adjuvant oxaliplatin and weekly paclitaxel or every 3 weeks of paclitaxel. Patients completed daily questionnaires after each chemotherapy dose and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality-of-life questionnaire for patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy before each chemotherapy cycle and for 12 months post-treatment.
Results: Acute neuropathy symptoms from both drugs peaked around day 3. Acute symptoms experienced in cycle 1 predicted occurrence in subsequent cycles. Paclitaxel-induced acute symptoms were similar in intensity in each cycle and largely resolved between cycles. Oxaliplatin-induced acute symptoms were about half as severe in the first cycle as in later cycles and did not resolve completely between cycles. Both drugs caused a predominantly sensory chronic neuropathy (with numbness and tingling being more common than pain). Oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy worsened after the completion of treatment and began to improve 3 months post-treatment. In contrast, paclitaxel-induced neuropathy began improving immediately after chemotherapy cessation. During treatment, the incidence of paclitaxel sensory symptoms was similar in the hands and feet; with oxaliplatin, the hands were affected more than the feet. Both paclitaxel- and oxaliplatin-induced acute neurotoxicity appeared to predict the severity of chronic neuropathy, more prominently with oxaliplatin.
Conclusions: Knowledge of the similarities and differences between neuropathy syndromes may provide insight into their underlying pathophysiology and inform future research to identify preventative treatment approaches.
Keywords: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; Oxaliplatin neuropathy; Paclitaxel neuropathy.