Knowledge Base

Cancer-Related Neuropathy

What is Cancer-Related Neuropathy?

Cancer-related neuropathy is the result of a complication from cancer itself or treatment.

What are the symptoms?

Cancer -related neuropathy is linked to problems with the sensory and motor systems. Common symptoms include burning or numb sensations, a ‘pins and needles’ and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to stimulation resulting in pain). Balance, reflexes and dexterity may be compromised and muscles may grow weak or shrink resulting in problems walking and frequents falls. Constipation, problems with urination and changes in blood pressure are also symptoms of cancer-related neuropathy.  

Is there any treatment?

The treatment for cancer-related neuropathy will depend on the severity of the condition and whether or not it’s tied to your cancer treatment. For example, in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, controlling the doses of chemo drugs with your healthcare team might help prevent long term damage of the nervous system. 

Managing cancer-related neuropathic pain is done with a variety of pharmaceuticals including steroids, topical analgesics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and in some cases opioids.  

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for cancer-related neuropathy varies between individuals and by cause. In some cases, symptoms may disappear after cancer treatment is done, in other cases, it may take years to subside. In more severe instances, the condition may persist indefinitely.  

Related evidence

Fallon MT. Neuropathic pain in cancer. Br J Anaesth. 2013 Jul;111(1):105-11. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet208.
Knopp KL, Nisenbaum ES, Arneric SP.Evolving cancer pain treatments: rational approaches to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 Oct;12(10):1627-43.


Charles S. Cleeland, John T. Farrar and Frederick H. Hausheer. Assessment of Cancer-Related Neuropathy and Neuropathic Pain. The Oncologist 2010, 15:13-18. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2009-S501

American Cancer Society [Internet]. Peripheral Neuropathy Cause by Chemotherapy [updated 2013 Apr 2; cited 2014 Aug 19] Available from: 

Last updated August 19, 2014