The prevalence, distribution and impact of peripheral neuropathy among Danish patients with cancer–a population-based cross-sectional study

Sebastian Werngreen Nielsen*, Lise Eckhoff, Christina Halgaard Bruvik Ruhlmann, Jørn Herrstedt, Susanne Oksbjerg Dalton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: Prevalence of peripheral neuropathy (PN) has been studied in patients undergoing treatment with taxanes, platinums and vinca alkaloids. The prevalence is unknown in the general oncological cancer population, characterized by advanced age, comorbidities and heterogeneous treatments. Material and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was administered to all adult patients, attending outpatient services at three Danish departments of oncology. The survey contained the EORTC-CIPN20, the EORTC-QLQ-C30, the GAD7 and PHQ9 questionnaires. A high PN symptom score was defined as a summary score ≥30 points on the CIPN20. P-values were adjusted for multiple testing. Results: With an overall response rate of 83% (2839 patients), prevalence of PN was 17% overall, varying from 6 to 33% between diagnosis groups. A high score was more common among females (19 vs. 14%, p =.008), smokers (21 vs. 15%, p =.04), patients living alone (21 vs. 15%, p =.002) and patients using cannabis (29 vs. 15%, p <.001), as well as patients suffering from diabetes (26 vs. 16%, p <.001), cardiac heart disease (27 vs. 16%, p <.001), arthritis (32 vs. 15%, p <.001) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (25 vs. 16%, p =.01). High score patients were also older (69ys vs 67ys, p =.048) and more likely experiencing polypharmacy (OR = 3.38 [95% CI, 2.64;4.35]). Patients with a high CIPN20 symptom score scored worse on all EORTC QLQ-C30 function and symptom scales. The mean adjusted C30 SumScore difference was −18.66 ([95% CI, −20.31; −17.02], p <.001). Conclusion: Symptoms of PN are experienced widely across cancer groups in the oncology setting. PN symptoms were associated with clinically relevant worse health-related quality of life and with patient-related factors as living alone, various comorbidities, polypharmacy, and cannabis use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)363-370
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • adverse effects
  • cancer treatment
  • chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Neurological complications
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • Prevalence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases/chemically induced
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Quality of Life
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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