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Peripheral Neuropathy Risk Elevated After Childhood Cancer, Study Finds

With childhood cancer now affecting approximately 17 out of every 100,000 children in the world, efforts to understand complications of cancer treatments on those children have notably increased. A recent study from the University of Sydney and published in the American Medical Association's JAMA Neurology has revealed that one complication, a condition called peripheral neuropathy, is much more prevalent - and much longer lasting - than previously thought.

"Peripheral neuropathy is a condition caused by damage to your peripheral nerves, which are located in the hands and feet," says Dr. Nathan Weller, a peripheral neuropathy specialist in Scottsdale, Arizona. "It can be caused by diseases like diabetes, but it can also be caused by chemotherapy."

According to the study's findings, children who are treated with cisplatin have about a 50 percent chance of developing peripheral neuropathy approximately eight and a half years after their chemotherapy treatment ends. This contradicts previous beliefs that peripheral neuropathy only occurred in children during chemotherapy treatment, and that the condition eventually goes away on its own.

"What they found was that not only is the instance of peripheral neuropathy much higher than previously estimated, it's not going away like they thought it was. It's developing in these teens and young adults, and it's wreaking havoc on their lives," Weller says.

That's because, according to Weller, peripheral neuropathy can diminish the patient's quality of life to the point that they become not only sedentary, but they can also develop other conditions as a result, like heart disease and diabetes.

"And diabetes is another cause of peripheral neuropathy, so that just adds to the problem," Weller says.

The study concludes that physical therapy may be the key to helping patients remain active despite peripheral neuropathy pain, and Weller notes that there are many effective, drug-free treatments for peripheral neuropathy patients, including stem cell and light therapy.

"Peripheral neuropathy doesn't have to be the end of a promising future - there are safe, effective options that have been proven time and time again to work better than and longer than simply taking pain medication," he says.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

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