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Long-term chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy among breast cancer survivors: prevalence, risk factors, and fall risk


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common toxicity associated with chemotherapy, but researchers rarely study its risk factors, fall risk, and prevalence in long-term breast cancer survivors. We aimed to determine CIPN prevalence, risk factors, and association with psychological distress and falls among long-term breast cancer survivors. We conducted Cross-sectional analyses among postmenopausal women with a history of stage I–III breast cancer who received taxane-based chemotherapy. Participants reported neuropathic symptoms of tingling/numbness in hands and/or feet on a 0–10 numerical rating scale. We conducted multivariate logistic regression analyses to evaluate risk factors associated with the presence of CIPN and the relationship between CIPN and anxiety, depression, insomnia, and patient-reported falls. Among 296 participants, 173 (58.4 %) reported CIPN symptoms, 91 (30.7 %) rated their symptoms as mild, and 82 (27.7 %) rated them moderate to severe. Compared with women of normal weight, being obese was associated with increased risk of CIPN (adjusted OR 1.94, 95 % CI: 1.03–3.65). Patients with CIPN reported greater insomnia severity, anxiety, and depression than those without (all p < 0.05). Severity of CIPN was associated with higher rates of falls, with 23.8, 31.9, and 41.5 % in the “no CIPN,” “mild,” and “moderate-to-severe” groups, respectively, experiencing falls (p = 0.028). The majority of long-term breast cancer survivors who received taxane-based chemotherapy reported CIPN symptoms; obesity was a significant risk factor. Those with CIPN also reported increased psychological distress and falls. Interventions need to target CIPN and comorbid psychological symptoms, and incorporate fall prevention strategies for aging breast cancer survivors.

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This study was funded in part by a National Cancer Institute R01CA158243 (Mao) and R21CA173263 (Bao), and by a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center P30 grant (P30-CA008748).

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Correspondence to Ting Bao.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Experiments comply with the current laws of the United States.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Bao, T., Basal, C., Seluzicki, C. et al. Long-term chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy among breast cancer survivors: prevalence, risk factors, and fall risk. Breast Cancer Res Treat 159, 327–333 (2016).

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  • Chemotherapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Falls
  • Obesity