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Am J Clin Oncol. 2009 Jun;32(3):319-25. doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e318173a520.

Multiple myeloma, painful neuropathy, acupuncture?

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.


Thalidomide and bortezomib are remarkably efficacious in the treatment of multiple myeloma. Unfortunately, their use can cause sensory neuropathy, a common and serious adverse event that frequently limits dose and duration of treatment. Although the relationship between peripheral neuropathy and therapeutic dose is controversial, many authors have demonstrated a positive correlation between neuropathy and cumulative dose, dose intensity, and length of therapy. Peripheral neuropathic pain is the most troublesome symptom of neuropathy. Spontaneous pain, allodynia, hyperalgesia, and hyperpathia are often associated with decreased physical activity, increased fatigue, mood, and sleep problems. Symptoms are often difficult to manage, and available treatment options rarely provide total relief. Moreover, the adverse effects of these treatments often limit their use. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture, with fewer adverse effects than analgesic drugs, in the treatment of painful diabetic and human immunodeficiency virus-related neuropathy. However, the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating toxic neuropathy has not been assessed. Although its putative mechanisms remain elusive, acupuncture has strong potential as an adjunctive therapy in thalidomide- or bortezomib-induced painful neuropathy, and a better understanding might guide its use in the management of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain. Well-designed clinical trials with adequate sample size and power are warranted.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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