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Thread: Taxol and neuropathy

  1. #1
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    Taxol and neuropathy

    I have completed 4 AC and 4 Taxol. It has been a month since my last dose of Taxol and the neuropathy has gotten worse. Has anyone else had this experience? I thought I was losing my mind. How could it possibly get worse after all this time. However, my oncologist said this can happen. It is like sripping the bark off a tree. Bark grows slowly and it may take 6-12 months for my nerves to return to normal. At first it was numb, but then became very sensitive to touch as in painful. I have it in my hands and feet. It affects both sensory and motor nerves. I have to be careful walking so as not to trip.

    It is so hard to be patient. It is good that I just recently retired as this would keep me from working as a nurse. I am doing acupuncture which seems to help some. I hope that the Taxol knocked the socks off of any remaning cancer cells as it did my nerve cells.

    So I am now on to having 33 treatments of radiation and that is going well. What a journey....Sharon
    DX: October, 2004,age 59
    Lumpectomy with Sentinel node
    Sentinel node + with 5mm lesion
    ER/PR +
    HER2 -
    Invasive Ductal with 8mm primary lesion
    Dose Dense AC x 4 with Taxol x4
    Radiation x 6weeks

  2. #2
    Hi Sharon,

    My name is michael. I have BC also. I had the A/C and it was a breeze and then they said I was to get the easy stuff, Taxol...It like to killed me the pain was so bad... I hate to tell you but it will be around a while. My Dr gave me nuroten, and it did help. Also try, if i can spell this, gluclosimine. It helped to.

    Good Luck

  3. #3
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    Sharon, sorry you are still having lingering side effects from Taxol. I did not do chemo, but have heard tales from others who did, so I know neuropathy and bone pain are pretty normal. Hope your situation improves sooner than later. Good luck with your rad treatments. I remember how tired I was during those weeks. Try to take it easy. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. You are almost done. Hugs, Lauri
    Diagnosed 4/11/1996
    Lumpectomy, 6 mm tumor
    Neg. nodes
    ER/PR+
    33 rads
    Tamoxifen, 5 yrs.
    NED

  4. #4
    Top User gdpawel's Avatar
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    Neuropathy

    Neuropathy, a problem that sometimes occurs with chemotherapy treatment. It's not all that rare, especially frequent in patients older than 65 years of age. It is damage to the nerves. It can occur from some chemotherapy drugs used in conventional cancer treatment.

    There are three major goups of nerves in the human body, the peripheral nerves that carry information to and from the limbs, the nerves that supply the bowels and other internal organs, and the nerves of the head which connect to the ears, eyes, taste buds, etc. Nerves in any or all of these major groups can be affected by certain chemotherapy drugs.

    Nerves are vulnerable to many kinds of damage. They can be damaged by certain cancers. This may be caused by the cancer cells producing a particular kind of biological agent that interferes with the function of the nerves. Sometimes, they can be damged by drugs used in chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy drugs that most likely cause nerve damage are the vinca alkaloids(vincristine, vindesine and vinblastine), platinum drugs(cisplatinum, carboplatinum) and the taxanes(taxol, taxotere). These drugs have the potential of interfering with nerve function.

    You may notice symptoms in different areas of your body depending on which groups of nerves are affected. Symptoms in the hands and feet happen when peripheral nerve damage happens and are not rare with vinca alkaloids. The first sign of nerve damage is usually a feeling of tingling and numbness like what you experience when your foot goes to sleep after you've been sitting for a long time in an uncomfortable position. If the problem progresses further, it often produces weakness of the muscles, resulting in loss of strength at the wrist or the ankle. You will notice difficulty in doing up buttons and picking up coins. You may notice that you will tend to trip while walking up stairs or dragging your feet and tend to have a wide-based gait. In severe cases, the weakness may be so severe that you will need a wheelchair.

    When the nerves in the bowel are affected, constipation is the earliest sign. In a few people, the abdomen becomes bloated with a distended bowel that is basically paralyzed. Some of the nerves in the head can also be affected. Platinum drugs can affect the auditory nerve and cause loss of hearing and tinnitus(ringing in the ears). Vision can very occasionally be affected.

    A lot depends on how quickly your cancer treatment can be stopped. Sometimes the need for treatment is more urgent then the residual nerve damage. Sometimes, the balance between benefit from the drug and the side effect of nerve damage is more finely balanced.

    Once treatment has been stopped, recovery is usually slow. It may take months to get even partial improvement and often there will be some residual impairment, either a motor weakness or a sensory numbness or both. Recovery is slower in the feet and legs than in the hands and arms.

    There is no specific treatment that enhances nerve recovery. There are no drugs that will directly stimulate nerve regeneration or recovery. If you have severe and prolonged pain, then the pain may require narcotics often combined with antidepressants. In some cases, certain types of anticonvulsants would be helpful. Treatment options are subjects that you should discuss with your doctor, so you have accurate expectations of potential benefits and side effects.

    Chemotherapy drugs that can cause neuropathy. NCI lists these as most likely to do so:

    Cisplatinum (Platinol)

    Carboplatin (Paraplatin)

    Vincristine (Oncovin)

    Vinblastine (Velban)

    Etoposide/VP-16 (VePesid)

    Cytarabine (Cytosar, Ara-C)

    Hexamethylmelamine (Hexalen)

    Suramin

    Paclitaxel (Taxol) and Docetaxel (Taxotere)

    Other medications reported to contribute to neuropathy include oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), gemcitibine (Gemzar) and thalidomide (Thalomid).

    Bionumerik, in boosting its new drug Tavocept, that is aimed at preventing or reducing common and serious side effects, particularly nerve and kidney damage, associated with taxane (Taxol) and platinum (Carboplatin) drugs, talks about in their literature that chemotherapy-induced toxicities are common and serious clinical problems that adversely impact both the quality of life of cancer patients and the ability of patients to continue treatment for their cancer.

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for the excellent information and suggestions. I think that neuropathy is really played down by the oncologists. They are reluctant to change any dosing probably in fear of reducing the effectiveness of Taxol. However, I think that it needs to be addressed in a more serious manner as it has a direct impact on the quality of life. The fear of it being permanent is huge. I actually called Bristol Myers Squibb and talked to the oncoology and hematology division. Unfortantely, I knew more than the person I spoke with. I did access their web site and read the product information sheet. Older patients do recover more slowly from neuropathy. I was told by the oncologist that it may take 6 months to a year for my feeling to return. Micheal, did you mean L-Glutamine or glucosamine for relief? I did take 30 GM of L-Glutamine for five days after each Taxol. Appartently Melissa Etheridge stopped the Taxol when she expereinced numbness...you can't play the guitar with numb fingers.
    I am now taking 300 mg of Neurotin three times a day. It does help. 60% of patients on Taxol experience some neuropathy. I am very cautious when walking so as not to trip and fall. I wear very supportive and protective shoes as well.
    Interestingly, the numbness in my upper lip is gone and I have normal function and feeling in my face now. I don't know if it is my imagination or not, but I have a strange sensation on my back. It feels like I just put moisturizer on my back when my clothes touch it.....like it would feel if you put a tee shirt on after swimming and were slightly wet. I quess we all respond a bit differently, but neuropathy is a huge issue for me.
    Hugs, Sharon
    DX: October, 2004,age 59
    Lumpectomy with Sentinel node
    Sentinel node + with 5mm lesion
    ER/PR +
    HER2 -
    Invasive Ductal with 8mm primary lesion
    Dose Dense AC x 4 with Taxol x4
    Radiation x 6weeks

  6. #6
    Top User gdpawel's Avatar
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    Taxol triggers fatal allergic reactions

    A new study from the Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports (RADAR) pharmacovigilance program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine identified 287 unique cases of hypersensitivity reactions submitted to the FDA's Adverse Event Report System between 1997 and 2007 with 109 (38 percent) deaths in patients who received Cremophor-based paclitaxel, a solvent-administered taxane chemotherapy.

    Adverse event reports generally only represent from 1 to 10 percent of actual incidence, so the number of hypersensitivity reactions and deaths is likely significantly higher. The severe allergic reactions are believed to be caused by Cremophor, the chemical solvent - a derivative of castor oil -- that is used to dissolve some insoluble drugs before they can be injected into the blood stream.

    http://cancerfocus.org/common_chemot...eactions/46410

 
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