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Impact of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy: a patient perspective

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Dose-limiting neurotoxicity is a major side effect of oxaliplatin treatment, producing initial acute neurotoxicity and chronic neuropathy with increasing exposure. The improvement in survival for patients with early-stage colorectal cancer treated with oxaliplatin has highlighted the need for valid and reliable assessment of peripheral neuropathy.


The objective of this paper was to explore neuropathic symptoms in oxaliplatin-treated patients as assessed using different methods.


Consecutive symptomatic patients reporting peripheral neuropathy after oxaliplatin chemotherapy for colorectal cancer were interviewed using a semi-structured clinical interview. Neurotoxicity was also assessed using the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria scale (clinician-rated), patient ‘self-report’ questionnaires (PNQ), nerve conduction and clinical assessment.


Twenty patients were assessed, 12.6 ± 2.8 months after treatment cessation (mean cumulative oxaliplatin dose, 789 mg/m2). In 40% of patients, neurotoxicity necessitated early cessation of treatment. Only 10% of patients were designated by clinicians with severe neurotoxicity, whilst, in contrast, patient interviews and self-report questionnaires described significant physical limitations due to neuropathic symptoms in 60% of patients. The majority (85%) of patients had objective evidence of sensory neuropathy with nerve conduction studies. Reports from clinical interviews were strongly correlated with patient self-assessment (Pearson coefficient = 0.790, p < 0.0005).


Given the discrepancies in symptom prevalence highlighted by these findings, the monitoring of oxaliplatin-induced neurotoxicity would benefit from more informative clinical assessment, with inclusion of patient-reported outcome measures. Such an approach would be beneficial in a clinical trial setting to monitor the efficacy of interventions and in prospective studies of survivorship to determine the true burden of peripheral neuropathy in oxaliplatin-treated patients.

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National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria for Adverse Events


Patient Neurotoxicity Questionnaire


Patient-reported outcome


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We wish to acknowledge the support of clinicians and staff of the Department of Medical Oncology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia. We wish to thank all the patients who participated in the study.


Dr. Bennett is supported by a National Breast Cancer Foundation (Australia) Postdoctoral Fellowship (no. PF-08-01).

Conflict of interest statement

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest or financial disclosures in relation to this manuscript or the work described in this manuscript.

Data responsibility

The first author (Dr. Bennett), Susanna Park and senior author (Dr. Goldstein) had full access to all primary study data and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and accuracy of the data analyses. The authors agree to allow the journal to review their data if requested.

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Correspondence to Barbara K. Bennett.

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This is an original work and all the authors meet criteria for authorship.

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Bennett, B.K., Park, S.B., Lin, C.SY. et al. Impact of oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy: a patient perspective. Support Care Cancer 20, 2959–2967 (2012).

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