Scope of symptoms and self-management strategies for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in breast cancer patients



This study explored the self-management strategies utilized by female breast cancer patients to cope with the impact of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) symptoms. We also examined the variety of taxane-related side effects in women with and without CIPN in order to discriminate the CIPN symptom experience.


A purposive sample of 25 patients treated with docetaxel or paclitaxel were recruited, half with and half without CIPN. Semistructured interviews and patient level data were utilized for this exploratory, descriptive study. Interview data were analyzed with the constant comparative method; patient level data were abstracted from the electronic medical record.


Participants were aged 24–60 years, were currently receiving chemotherapy or within 6 months of having completed treatment, and 14 had CIPN. CIPN impacted routine activities, functions, and behaviors in the areas of domestic, work, and social/leisure life. Multiple self-management and coping strategies to minimize the impact of CIPN symptoms were reported; the focus was on movement to reduce symptoms, attitude awareness, logistics to simplify demands, and environmental change. Women with and without CIPN were similar in the quantity and type of other reported side effects.


CIPN affects breast cancer patients’ routine activities, functions, and behaviors, but they develop management strategies to reduce the impact. The management strategies reported in this study suggest breast cancer patients may adopt interventions that focus on exercise, mindfulness, occupational therapy, and environmental planning toward the goal of reducing the impact of CIPN symptoms on their lives.

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Correspondence to Rebecca M. Speck.

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Speck, R.M., DeMichele, A., Farrar, J.T. et al. Scope of symptoms and self-management strategies for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in breast cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 20, 2433–2439 (2012).

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  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Symptom management
  • Coping strategies