Duloxetine to prevent neuropathy in breast cancer patients under paclitaxel chemotherapy (a double-blind randomized trial)


Support Care Cancer. 2024 Jul 8;32(8):493. doi: 10.1007/s00520-024-08669-y.


PURPOSE: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is one of the major side effects and main reasons for affecting quality of life and dose reduction or even discontinuation of treatment in breast cancer patients. One of the most widely prescribed chemotherapies is the “taxanes.” Considering that duloxetine has been used in treating neuropathies in recent years, this study aimed to investigate its effectiveness in preventing taxane-related neuropathy.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: This is a randomized controlled trial on 47 patients: 24 received a placebo and 23 received duloxetine at 30 mg daily in the first week following the injection of paclitaxel and 60 mg during the second week in each chemotherapy cycle. Patients objective (nerve conduction velocity (NCV) values) and subjective symptoms (visual analog scale including; neuropathy, paresthesia, pain, cold sensitivity, and numbness), the grades of the patients’ neuropathy (calculated according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) v.5), and the presence of complications, before and after each chemotherapy cycle, were recorded.

RESULTS: The placebo group experienced significantly higher occurrences of new neuropathy (8/23 in duloxetine vs 16/24 in placebo, P = 0.029) in NCV by tibial nerve latency (- 0.28% vs 19.87%, P = 0.006), tibial amplitude (4.40% vs – 10.88%, P = 0.049), and median nerve latency (8.72% vs 31.16%, P = 0.039); administration of duloxetine significantly reduced the scores of neuropathies (P < 0.001), pain (P = 0.027), during chemotherapy, and 6 weeks later; however, no significant effect was observed on paresthesia, numbness, cold sensitivity, and other NCV measurements.

CONCLUSIONS: Paclitaxel can cause neuropathy, lasting for a long time. Our study showed duloxetine is potentially an effective medication that can prevent subjective and objective neuropathy.

PMID:38976095 | DOI:10.1007/s00520-024-08669-y