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CIPN Ovarian Cancer

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Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common side effect not only in Ovarian Cancer patients but all cancer patients. In my experience, it is the chemotherapy regimen that causes this side effect, not the type of cancer that causes it.

Having said that, the study linked and excerpted below may be of interest to ovarian cancer survivors who suffer with CIPN as well as others who suffer from this potentially long-term side effect.

What is Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy?

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a condition characterized by damage to the peripheral nerves as a result of chemotherapy treatment. Peripheral nerves are those outside the brain and spinal cord, and they are responsible for transmitting signals between the central nervous system and the rest of the body, including the limbs and organs.

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications used to treat various forms of cancer by targeting and killing rapidly dividing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs can also affect normal, healthy cells, including the peripheral nerves. The exact mechanism by which chemotherapy induces peripheral neuropathy is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve damage to the nerve fibers.

Symptoms of CIPN can vary but often include:

  1. Numbness or tingling: Patients may experience a sensation of pins and needles, tingling, or numbness in the hands and feet.
  2. Burning or shooting pain: Some individuals with CIPN may experience a burning or shooting pain, which can be constant or intermittent.
  3. Sensitivity to temperature: Changes in temperature sensitivity, with some patients reporting increased sensitivity to cold or heat.
  4. Loss of coordination and balance: CIPN can affect motor skills, leading to difficulties with balance and coordination.
  5. Weakness: Muscular weakness, particularly in the extremities, may occur.
  6. Difficulty with fine motor skills: Tasks requiring fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt or picking up small objects, may become challenging.

The severity and duration of CIPN can vary among individuals and depend on factors such as the specific chemotherapy drugs used, the dosage, and the duration of treatment. In some cases, symptoms may improve or resolve after the completion of chemotherapy, while in others, CIPN may persist for an extended period.

What are the chemotherapy regimens that cause CIPN?

The severity and likelihood of CIPN can vary depending on the specific drugs, doses, and duration of treatment. Some chemotherapy regimens known to cause peripheral neuropathy include:

  1. Platinum-based drugs:
    • Cisplatin
    • Carboplatin
    • Oxaliplatin
  2. Taxanes:
    • Paclitaxel
    • Docetaxel
  3. Vinca alkaloids:
    • Vincristine
    • Vinblastine
    • Vinorelbine
  4. Thalidomide and lenalidomide: These drugs are used in the treatment of multiple myeloma and can cause neuropathy.
  5. Bortezomib: This is a proteasome inhibitor used in the treatment of multiple myeloma and lymphomas.
  6. Ixabepilone: This is a microtubule inhibitor used in the treatment of breast cancer.

It’s important to note that not all patients treated with these drugs will experience peripheral neuropathy, and the severity can vary.  In some cases, these symptoms may persist or become chronic even after the completion of chemotherapy.

I am a long-term cancer survivor with lots of long-term and late stage side effects. I consider myself to be lucky where neurotoxicity is concerned. I have lots of nerve damage from both chemo and radiation but my nerve damage has resulted in numbness and muscle weakness, not pain. I have followed almost every “home remedy” for CIPN listed below. I don’t walk very well but I’ve managed to stay out of a wheelchair.

What are some non-conventional therapies shown to manage CIPN?

1. Exercise

Exercise promotes muscle tone, and this may reduce some symptoms of neuropathy.

2. Dietary changes

eating antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries, walnuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed oil, which may combat inflammation

eating high fiber foods and foods that the body absorbs slowly, such as certain vegetables, fruits, and nuts

eating fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day

limiting saturated and trans fats

reducing or eliminating alcohol intake

3. Quitting smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for peripheral neuropathy because it narrows and damages peripheral blood vessels.

It can also worsen symptoms of this nerve damage, even when another condition or lifestyle factor is the primary cause of the neuropathy…

4. Vitamins

B-complex vitamins

  • Vitamin E:
  • Acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC):
  • Alpha-lipoic acid:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids:
  • N-acetylcysteine:
  • Magnesium and calcium:
  • Glutamine:

5. Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques may help a person better manage pain from neuropathy. Deep breathing, meditation, and progressive relaxation may offer some relief.

Some relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, and blend stretching, may reduce stressand improve posture, easing some of the painful effects of neuropathy…

6. Alternative medicine

Some people with peripheral neuropathy try alternative medicine, including acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, and energy-based modalities, such as Reiki…”

I swear by and practice most every complementary therapy out there for cancer survivors. I think we all should live an anti-cancer lifestyle. Both to treat our cancer as well as our short, long-term and late stage side effects.

Are you an ovarian cancer survivor? Do you struggle with CIPN? Let me know-


Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Exercise May Mitigate Chemo-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Ovarian Cancer

“An aerobic exercise program produced promising reductions in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) among patients with ovarian cancer, according to findings from a secondary analysis of the phase 3 Women’s Activity and Lifestyle Study in Connecticut (WALC) trial (NCT02107066)…

“The study provides evidence of the potential benefit of exercise in attenuating a common chemotherapy adverse effect for which there is no accepted treatment…”

“Incorporating referrals to exercise programs into the standard oncology care for patients with ovarian cancer could attenuate CIPN symptoms and increase quality of life. Exercise could also prolong survival by improving chemotherapy adherence, if future studies show the effects of exercise on preventing CIPN during chemotherapy for patients with ovarian cancer…”

Of 134 patients in the overall population, 69 were assigned to exercise intervention, and 65 were assigned to attention control. The mean patient age was 57.2 years in the exercise intervention arm and 57.9 years in the attention control arm…

Additionally, most patients had stage III disease (44.9% vs 40.0%) and previously received carboplatin plus paclitaxel (86.8% vs 76.6%).

The mean baseline CIPN score based on the FACT/GOG/Ntx questionnaire was 8.4 in the overall population; the mean CIPN score was 8.1 for patients assigned to the exercise intervention arm and 8.8 for those assigned to the attention control arm (P = .56).

Overall, 94.8% of patients reported having at least 1 symptom related to CIPN at baseline, the most common of which included numbness or discomfort in the feet…”




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