The Link Between Cancer and Neuropathy

Most people associate neuropathy with diabetes. That’s because diabetes can contribute to diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy causes tingling and numbness due to nerve damage. When this happens to your feet, you're more likely to experience foot injuries without even realizing it.

But diabetes isn’t the only condition that increases your risk of neuropathy. Cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, can also cause neuropathy. 

Here at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists, we’re experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating neuropathy, regardless of what’s causing it. In this blog, our team of board-certified podiatrists discusses the link between cancer treatments and neuropathy.

Cancer treatments and neuropathy

Cancer treatments are essential to removing cancer cells from your body, and while your primary focus is on the efficiency of those treatments, it’s important to know how radiation and chemotherapy contribute to neuropathy.

Chemotherapy and radiation rely on powerful medications to eliminate cancer cells, which can cause a variety of side effects, including nausea, hair loss, and peripheral neuropathy. 

Research shows that neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapy and can affect your hands and feet. It may be a common side effect, but there are many treatments to help you get relief.

What does neuropathy do?

Now that we know that cancer treatments can cause neuropathy, how do you know if your symptoms are related to chemotherapy-induced neuropathy? 

Neuropathy causes numbness and tingling and lessens your ability to feel certain sensations. People with neuropathy commonly experience foot injuries without noticing them. Skin irritations and even small blisters can also lead to wound-related issues, infections, and ulcers.

Why a weak immune system makes healing more difficult

Cancer treatments need to be powerful, and as such, they can weaken your immune system. Immunosuppression can lead to lower white blood cell counts. This is called neutropenia, in which your body has a lower count of white blood cells (neutrophils). 

When your white blood cell count is low, your body has a harder time healing itself and increases your risk of developing an infection. Small cuts can be problematic (especially if you didn’t feel the injury due to neuropathy) and can lead to increased infections.

3 signs it’s time to discuss peripheral neuropathy 

If you’re undergoing cancer treatment or planning to undergo them soon, don’t hesitate to discuss the potential for developing neuropathy with your oncologist. 

You may be seeing the start of neuropathy if you:

Early detection and treatment of ulcers or other wounds can help you avoid complications, including infections or amputation. 

Depending on your specific foot problem, we can recommend a variety of treatments to control pain and discomfort from neuropathy: pain medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy. 

If a wound has already developed, we provide compassionate and advanced care. Whether you need hyperbaric oxygen therapy or a bioengineered skin graft, we can halt the progression of your wound. 

If you’re concerned about cancer treatments and neuropathy or want to explore your neuropathy treatment options, you can trust our team here at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists. Request an appointment at one of our offices in Tamarac, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, or Hollywood, Florida, by visiting our website or calling the location of your choice.

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