Background: Peripheral neuropathy (PN) due to paclitaxel is a common dose-limiting toxicity with no effective prevention or treatment. We hypothesize that continuous-flow limb hypothermia can reduce paclitaxel-induced PN. Patients and methods: An internally controlled pilot trial was conducted to investigate the neuroprotective effect of continuous-flow limb hypothermia in breast cancer patients receiving weekly paclitaxel. Patients underwent limb hypothermia of one limb for a duration of 3 h with every paclitaxel infusion, with the contralateral limb used as control. PN was primarily assessed using nerve conduction studies (NCSs) before the start of chemotherapy, and after 1, 3, and 6 months. Skin temperature and tolerability to hypothermia were monitored using validated scores. Results: Twenty patients underwent a total of 218 cycles of continuous-flow limb hypothermia at a coolant temperature of 22°C. Continuous-flow limb hypothermia achieved mean skin temperature reduction of 1.5 ± 0.7°C and was well tolerated, with no premature termination of cooling due to intolerance. Grade 3 PN occurred in 2 patients (10%), grade 2 in 2 (10%), and grade 1 in 12 (60%). Significant correlation was observed between amount of skin cooling and motor nerve amplitude preservation at 6 months (p < 0.0005). Sensory velocity and amplitude in the cooled limbs were less preserved than in the control limbs, but the difference did not attain statistical significance. One patient with a history of diabetes mellitus had significant preservation of compound muscle action potential in the cooled limb on NCS analysis. Conclusion: This study suggests that continuous limb hypothermia accompanying paclitaxel infusion may reduce paclitaxel-induced PN and have therapeutic potential in select patients and warrants further investigation. The method is safe and well tolerated.
- Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
- Limb hypothermia
- Nerve conduction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research