Background: New chemotherapy regimens for patients with colorectal cancer have improved survival, but at the cost of clinical toxicity. Oxaliplatin, an agent used in firstline therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer, causes acute and chronic neurotoxicity. This study was performed to carefully assess the incidence, type and duration of oxaliplatin neurotoxicity. Methods: A detailed questionnaire was completed after each chemotherapy cycle for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer enrolled in a phase I trial of oxaliplatin and capecitabine. An oxaliplatin specific neurotoxicity scale was used to grade toxicity. Results: Eighty-six adult patients with colorectal cancer were evaluated. Acute neuropathy symptoms included voice changes, visual alterations, pharyngolaryngeal dysesthesia (lack of awareness of breathing); peri-oral or oral numbness, pain and symptoms due to muscle contraction (spasm, cramps, tremors). When the worst neurotoxicity per patient was considered, grade 1/2/3/4 dysesthesias and paresthesias were seen in 71/12/5/0 and 66/20/7/1 percent of patients. By cycles 3, 6, 9, and 12, oxaliplatin dose reduction or discontinuation was needed in 2.7%, 20%, 37.5% and 62.5% of patients. Conclusions: Oxaliplatin-associated acute neuropathy causes a variety of distressing, but transient, symptoms due to peripheral sensory and motor nerve hyperexcitability. Chronic neuropathy may be debilitating and often necessitates dose reductions or discontinuation of oxaliplatin. Patients should be warned of the possible spectrum of symptoms and re-assured about the transient nature of acute neurotoxicity. Ongoing studies are addressing the treatment and prophylaxis of oxaliplatin neurotoxicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research