Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy in Cancer Survivors

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2017 Aug;54(2):204-218.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2016.12.342. Epub 2017 Jan 4.


Context: Evidence suggests that chemotherapy-induced neuropathy (CIN) is a significant problem for cancer survivors. However, a detailed phenotypic characterization of CIN in cancer survivors is not available.

Objectives: To evaluate between-group differences in demographic and clinical characteristics, as well as in measures of sensation, function, and postural control, in a sample of cancer survivors who received a platinum and/or a taxane-based CTX regimen and did (n = 426) and did not (n = 197) develop CIN.

Methods: Survivors completed self-report questionnaires and underwent objective testing (i.e., light touch, pain sensation, cold sensation, vibration, muscle strength, grip strength, Purdue Pegboard test, Timed Get Up and Go test, Fullerton Advanced Balance test). Parametric and nonparametric statistics were used to compare between-group differences in study outcomes.

Results: Of the 426 survivors with CIN, 4.9% had CIN only in their upper extremities, 27.0% only in their lower extremities, and 68.1% in both their upper and lower extremities. Demographic and clinical characteristics associated with CIN included the following: older age, lower annual income, higher body mass index, a higher level of comorbidity, being born prematurely, receipt of a higher cumulative dose of chemotherapy, and a poorer functional status. Survivors with CIN had worse outcomes for all of the following objective measures: light touch, pain, temperature, vibration, upper and lower extremity function, and balance.

Conclusions: This study is the first to provide a detailed phenotypic characterization of CIN in cancer survivors who received a platinum and/or a taxane compound. These data can serve as a benchmark for future studies of CIN in cancer survivors.

Keywords: Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy; balance; cancer; chemotherapy; gait; pain; pain qualities; sensations; vibration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Physical Examination
  • Platinum Compounds / adverse effects
  • Platinum Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Self Report
  • Taxoids / adverse effects
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Platinum Compounds
  • Taxoids