Chemotherapy Side Effect – Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

chemotherapy-side-effect-chemotherapy-induced-peripheral-neuropathy

Because these medicines travel through the blood to the entire body, chemotherapy is described as a body-wide treatment. The most common chemotherapy agents act by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of most cancer cells.

Because these medicines travel through the blood to the entire body, chemotherapy is described as a body-wide treatment. The most common chemotherapy agents act by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of most cancer cells.

As a result, chemotherapy may damage or kill some normal cells. These include bone marrow cells, hair follicles, and cells in the lining of the mouth and the digestive tract.

When this damage occurs, there can be neurological side effects, because certain chemotherapeutic drugs may bring damage to the central and peripheral nervous system.

Between 30 and 40 percent of people undergoing chemotherapy experience chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a progressive, enduring, and often irreversible condition, causing pain, tingling, numbness, and sensitivity to cold, beginning in the hands and feet and sometimes progressing to the arms and legs.  The neuropathy (nerve damage) can occur early after the treatment or maybe years later after the treatment.

Though the symptoms are mainly sensory like pain, tingling, numbness and temperature sensitivity in some cases motor nerves, that are heavily involved in muscle control, and the autonomic nervous system, is a control system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal are affected.

Side effects of chemotherapy depend on many things, including the type of cancer and which drugs are being used. Each person reacts differently to these drugs. Some newer chemotherapy drugs that better target cancer cells may cause fewer or different side effects.

Chemotherapy drugs associated with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy include thalidomide, epothilones, vinca alkaloids, taxanes, proteasome inhibitors, and platinum-based drugs.

Your health care provider will explain what you can do at home to prevent or treat all side effects. These measures include:

Being careful with pets and other animals to avoid catching infections from them

Eating enough calories and protein to keep your weight up

Preventing bleeding, and what to do if bleeding occurs

Practicing safe eating and drinking habits

Washing your hands often with soap and water

You will need to have follow-up visits with your provider during and after chemotherapy. Blood tests and imaging tests, such as x-rays, MRI, CT, or PET scans will be done to:

Monitor how well the chemotherapy is working

Watch for damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood, and other parts of the body.

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