Research Study: Peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect among cancer
patients being treated with various chemotherapy agents. This chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) often impacts
patients’ quality of life (QOL) while also limiting treatment
options and optimal drug dosing. No one treatment has been
found to greatly improve symptoms of CIPN. For these reasons,
ONS has identified the need for research in the area of identifying
and treating peripheral neuropathy.
Two vitamins that may show promise in treating CIPN are
alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and vitamin B6. Research has shown these
two vitamins play an important role in neurologic processes in the
body. The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of ALA
and B6 on patients with CIPN and its impact on their QOL.
QOL has become an important measurement in determining
successful cancer treatment and the driving force behind this
research. Ferrell’s QOL Model identifies four major components
of QOL: physical, social, psychological, and spiritual well-being.
This model was used as the theoretical framework, as the effects
of CIPN on a patient disrupts QOL by impacting both physical
and social aspects of life.
This retrospective, qualitative study was conducted in a private
oncology office. The convenience sample of ten patients who had
taken ALA and B6 for CIPN were asked to participate. Data collection
consisted of chart reviews and patient interviews. Grading of
the CIPN was based on the National Cancer Institute Toxicity Scale.
QOL functional status was assessed utilizing components of the
Dartmouth Primary Cooperative Group Information Project Tool.
The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board and
patient consent was obtained before conducting the interviews.
Results showed a decrease in the severity of CIPN in these
patients with improved numbers in the NCI Toxicity Scale as well
as the Dartmouth Functional Scales. Personal patient accounts of
improvement in their CIPN were impressive. This small qualitative
study is an important step to understanding the benefits of ALA
and B6 in improving CIPN symptoms. A more objective and controlled
study is warranted to statistically confirm these findings.