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Support Care Cancer. 2012 Mar;20(3):625-32. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1141-9. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

The relationship between numbness, tingling, and shooting/burning pain in patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) as measured by the EORTC QLQ-CIPN20 instrument, N06CA.

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Mayo Clinic Rochester, 200 First Street, SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is characterized by numbness, tingling, and shooting/burning pain. This analysis was performed to describe the relationship between numbness, tingling, and shooting/burning pain in patients with CIPN, as reported using the EORTC QLQ-CIPN20 (CIPN20).


Baseline CIPN20 data were provided for all patients on a prospective trial designed to treat patients with bothersome CIPN. Baseline frequencies for the items on the CIPN20 are primarily described by descriptive statistics and histograms, with correlational analyses between individual items.


A majority of the 199 patients accrued to this study reported "quite a bit" to "very much" numbness (57%) or tingling (63%) in the hands compared to "a little" or "not at all" (numbness (43%), tingling (38%)). Fewer patients reported "quite a bit" to "very much" shooting/burning pain in the hands (18%). Numbness and tingling in the hands were highly correlated (r = 0.69), while neither were highly correlated with shooting/burning pain. Similar results were observed in the feet. More severe ratings for tingling and shooting/burning pain were ascribed to the lower extremities, as opposed to the upper extremities.


In patients with CIPN, severe sensory neuropathy symptoms (numbness, tingling) commonly exist without severe neuropathic pain symptoms (shooting/burning pain), while the reverse is not common. Symptoms in the feet should be evaluated distinctly from those in the hands as the experience of symptoms is not identical, for individual patients, in upper versus lower extremities.

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