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Taxol Boosts Odds of Chronic Pain

Breast cancer patients getting the chemo drug may suffer long-term neuropathic discomfort, study finds

MONDAY, Nov. 30, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel (Taxol) increases the risk of chronic neuropathic pain in breast cancer survivors, a new study shows.

It included 240 women who took part in clinical trials of Taxol between 1994 and 2001. Those who experienced chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy during their treatment with Taxol were three times more likely to eventually be diagnosed with chronic neuropathic pain.

The study is published in the November issue of the Journal of Pain.

The findings indicate that patients treated with Taxol should be regularly monitored for neuropathic pain after their chemotherapy ends, said the researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In certain cases, patients and doctors should review the risks and benefits for continuing treatment with Taxol if a patient is likely to experience worsening neuropathy, the study authors added.

They noted that the same cellular mechanism that's altered by Taxol to kill tumors can be toxic to normal tissue.

More information

The National Pain Foundation has more about neuropathic pain.

SOURCE: American Pain Society, news release, Nov. 23, 2009
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