October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In 2020, around there were about 19.3 million new cases of cancer recorded globally, with 10 million deaths. Additionally, breast cancer in women is responsible for 11.7% of total cancer cases. Furthermore, Australia, Western Europe and North America have the greatest incidences of breast cancer.
Neuropathy is discomfort and pain caused by damage to nerves. Peripheral nerves are those located throughout the body outside of the brain and the spinal cord. Moreover, there are over 100 different types of neuropathy but the most common are diabetic neuropathy and neuropathy triggered by chemotherapy (CIPN) or other medications used to treat cancer.
Common cancer medications that can cause neuropathy
Halaven, Taxol, Taxotere and Navelbine are among the medications used in cancer treatment which are commonly associated with CIPN. Neuropathy symptoms can manifest at any time during chemotherapy treatment and and may be remedied once the cancer is treated. In fact, breast cancer treatments such as Margenza (targeted therapy) and Tecentriq (immunotherapy) can also cause neuropathy.
Common neuropathy symptoms
Symptoms can vary from patient to patient. For example, common symptoms include pain, tingling sensations, numbness and loss of sensation in the limbs. Additionally, pain can present as jarring or pinching and can be acute or chronic. Symptoms first occur in the extremities – the hands and feet – and then spread to the rest of the body. Not only does the loss of sensation in the limbs cause problems such as balance issues and decreased reflexes but also alter sensitivity to pain and temperature.
Managing neuropathy with cancer
Consult your physician if you notice a change in your symptoms or suspect you have neuropathy. Specifically, a change to your chemotherapy medication or prescribed painkillers might help ease pain and manage other symptoms. Furthermore, here are some other things to think about if you are living with neuropathy:
- Check bath temperature: Heightened sensitivity can make touch painful in many situations. Therefore, one should use a thermometer to check the bath temperature.
- Use ambulatory devices : Weakness in muscles along with numbness in your toes can affect balance and your ability to get around. Hence, ambulatory devices such as crutches provide you with the necessary support. Additionally, handrails and non-slip mats around the house can also increase grip and prevent avoidable falls.
- Look after your general physical health: Improvements to diet and a good physical exercise routine can help with pain management. It can improve overall mood and help one stay active.
- Do not overlook mental health: Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and support groups can all provide necessary support for your mental well-being. Coping with the disorder mentally can prepare one to manage symptoms.
WinSanTor is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of treatments for peripheral neuropathies. We believe in creating a solution that works and brings relief to millions that are struggling with this disease. Learn more about our company, our drug and subscribe to our newsletter.