Several days ago I shared information about a study looking at self-help techniques for women with neuropathy. The investigators are looking for more participants, and several of you contacted me later to say that you had decided to sign on. Since this clearly is a topic of interest to many (sadly so), I am writing today to give you a link to an excellent transcript from Living Beyond Breast Cancer (www.lbbc.org). This is an interview with Dr. Edith Mitchell from Thomas Jefferson University in Virginia. She was the first woman physician in the Air Force to be promoted to general and has a lot of excellent suggestions for treatment of neuropathy. Here is a short excerpt and then a link to read the whole thing:
Sometimes patients don't even associate [their neuropathy] with their cancer treatment because, as I said, it could occur many years later, [and you may not] even think about … the radiation [you had] 10 years ago or the chemotherapy [you had] 10 years ago being associated with problems that develop now. That's all a part of patients having improved survival; [such situations are the result of our having] better treatment, better survival.
Now we're talking about survivorship. [With people who have survived] breast cancer or other cancers, [it's] very, very important to make sure we take into account all of these things that can occur later down the road, and make sure that we are incorporating them into the patient's evaluation.
Approaches to management. There are lots of ways of managing peripheral neuropathy. Again, a lot depends on the impairment. What is the patient experiencing? I usually use what we call a multimodality approach. First of all, there is no specific medicine available that can [be given to every patient or that will] give improvement to every patient. Medications may be difficult. What kinds of patients do we expect to see problems in down the road? All of these types of cancers can occur, and all of these have been highly associated with neuropathy in survivors. Lung cancer [is] probably the number one cancer that causes neuropathy, but breast cancer, ovarian [cancer], prostate [cancer, and] many others [do as well]. All of these cancers can be associated with significant neuropathy.