There may now be a way to ease the awful tingling nerve pain commonly caused
by some forms of chemotherapy.
New research shows that the antidepressant drug duloxetine (brand name
Cymbalta) reduced the nerve pain that can result from neurotoxic chemotherapy.
First time a reliable pain treatment found
Oncologist and pain expert Harold
Goforth, MD, wasn’t part of the University of Michigan study, but says that
up to this point there haven’t been good treatment options for this type of
pain, called peripheral
According to the study, about 20 to 40 percent of people who receive
neurotoxic chemotherapy will suffer from ongoing nerve pain. This pain is
usually tingling sensations of pin pricks or pain in the hands and feet.
of Michigan researchers
looked at 231 patients with nerve pain over the course of five weeks.
Results showed that the duloxetine helped reduce nerve pain from chemo
compared to placebo. The researchers found that 59 percent of those who took
duloxetine reported reduced pain, while only 39 percent of those taking placebo
Potential for the pain treatment
Though this was just a clinical trial, the possibilities are exciting once
researchers can target who will respond to the duloxetine.
Treating peripheral neuropathy is critical because it can lead to doctors
being forced to limit the patient’s chemotherapy
if the pain becomes too severe. So not only will effective pain treatment
increase the patient’s quality of life, it avoids having to decrease needed
“It gives up hope that we have a better understanding of this condition, and
that we can better tailor treatment in the future,” says Dr. Goforth. “If we
can do that, we can restore function in people in addition to curing their