Simple treatment for chemotherapy pain

Linda Brent, PhD

Executive Director, Parsemus Foundation

Individuals undergoing chemotherapy often suffer from side effects, including pain or numbness in the hands and feet (called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy). Sometimes it is so severe that they delay or avoid chemotherapy treatment. A recently published prospective study highlighted the significant benefits of a simple solution: keeping the hands and feet cold during chemotherapy treatment. Hanai and colleagues reported the impact of using cryotherapy (90 minutes with frozen gloves and socks) for women receiving paclitaxel for breast cancer treatment. The study was reported online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and found differences between the cryotherapy-treated side and the non-treated side. Both objective and subjective neuropathy measures were significantly lower in the treated hands and feet.

You might imagine that wearing frozen gloves and socks would be very uncomfortable, but no one in the study dropped out due to cold intolerance. If someone you know will undergo chemotherapy, please pass along this information so they can discuss this simple solution to chemo-induced neuropathy with their oncologist.

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