Of the 15.5 million people who have had cancer in the United States and the last chemotherapy, 65 per cent of developing nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy means that the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord are affected. Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the extremities, and about 30 percent of patients experiencing pain. Neuropathy can drastically reduce the quality of life and, in extreme cases, demand a reduction in chemotherapy dose.
According to Ellen Lavoie Smith, a professor of the University of Michigan School of Nursing, diagnosis and treatment of neuropathy neglected. This is because clinicians and researchers do not have a standardized method for measuring the effectiveness of neuropathy symptoms and its treatment. Currently Cymbalta (duloxetine) drug is the only drug approved by the Office of the Food and Drug US means for treating the painful symptoms of neuropathy.
Not all doctors and nurses ask patients about neuropathy, numbness and tingling. "If we do not have a reliable tool for the study of the symptoms, we can not know whether the intervention is effective" - said Smith.
Smith Laboratory staff are trying to find the best way to quantify neuropathy symptoms and treatment efficacy. "The ultimate goal is to use the measuring tool in research and clinical settings that have been thoroughly tested and found to be reliable and valid," - she said.
Tool neuropathy measurement, considered Smith in her study is a questionnaire developed in Europe, and belonging to an international research network. This is measured by the patient evaluation of the results, called scale peripheral neuropathy European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (QLQ-CIPN20).
Findings show that with minor modifications it can be used everywhere in laboratories and among doctors, to help researchers and clinicians to quantify this condition.
Six previous publications show the effectiveness of this method. However, the two studies provide conflicting evidence, and in another study, it is assumed that minor changes are needed to improve the accuracy of readings.
Some researchers use the questionnaire right now, but for some reason it is not used in the hospital with cancer patients. "The next step for researchers is to examine and analyze the same method, because then the results of a researcher can be compared directly with the results of the next," - said Smith.