Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy (also called neuropathy) is a term used to describe damage to nerves that carry messages between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body. Nerve damage can cause symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or pain in the hands and feet. For a few people this may lead to problems with balance and walking.

Treatment with chemotherapy drugs called taxanes, such as docetaxel (Taxotere®) and paclitaxel (Taxol®) is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy in women who've had treatment for breast cancer.

Surgery and radiotherapy to the breast may also cause nerve damage.

After treatment is over most people find that their symptoms gradually improve as the nerves slowly recover. This usually takes several months. But, for some people the nerves don't completely recover and some nerve damage is long-term. Despite this many people find that their symptoms become less troublesome over time, as they adapt and find ways of coping with the changes.

We have more information about peripheral neuropathy and ways of managing it.