Expert Discusses Living With Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy affects many patients with cancer, so CURE spoke with an expert about coping strategies for those who have developed this condition.

Is there anything that can be done during treatment to prevent CIPN, or make it less severe?

The research on this is ongoing. It appears that CIPN can be attenuated by a change in treatment plan, such as change in chemotherapy schedule, or trying a different chemotherapy all together. There are other drugs and even supplements that are now being tested, but much more research is needed.

What kind of resources or services are out there for people affected by CIPN?

If survivors have difficulties with symptoms from CIPN that are not allowing them to participate in life the way they would want to, they are encouraged to ask their primary care providers for referrals to occupational and/or physical therapists. These rehabilitation professionals have experience working with clients with peripheral neuropathy, either because of CIPN or with another source, e.g., diabetes.

Occupational therapists are trained in problem-solving. Their job is to help individuals with challenges engage in life, either through rehabilitating or through teaching them how to adapt how they conduct daily activities, such as getting dressed, managing fatigue and minimizing fall risk factors. Physical therapists work directly on balance issues, and strengthening weakened muscles to enhance stability and endurance.

What advice would you give to someone with CIPN?

Don’t wait, or “tough it out.” Tell your doctor or nurse what you are experiencing. There is no reason to struggle alone. Go to rehabilitation and get back to life!

Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
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