Chemotherapy Cancer and Neuropathy
Hey guys, Hey, this is Dr. Thai. You know, I wanted to address a very specific question that a lot of people have. How and why does chemotherapy cause neuropathy? Now let's look at what a cancer cell does, right. So, you have normal cells in your body and you have cancer cells. Cancer cells are dormant in the body until something causes them to start proliferating uncontrollably in your body. When this happens it takes over the normal cell and now forms tumors. When this happens we all know it's time to destroy the cancer before it destroys us. So most patients with cancer will undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is injecting a chemical drug into your body that destroys cells. Most chemotherapy will destroy the cells ability to replicate. This is the main mechanism of action. The side effect of certain types of chemotherapy is developing CIPN chemo induced peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage to the peripheral nerves. These are the nerves in the feet.
Symptoms of neuropathy can range from numbness, tingling, to burning. Patients will often talk about feeling tightness in there foot. Them feeling like the are walking on rocks. The balls of their feet feel like it is all knotted up. These are common symptoms that happen with peripheral neuropathy.
How do cells replicate in your body? DNA and RNA are the basic building blocks of your body. It is the map and blueprint your body uses to create more cells. If you remember Jurassic Park, the movie, they were able to create dinosaurs from now splicing and replicating DNA. With DNA and RNA you can create nerves.
Now the problem is chemotherapy can’t distinguish between the healthy cell and a normal cell. And cells in your body are necessary to create everything, even a nerve. So, we have nerve cells in our body that are exposed to chemotherapy, they DIE. The chemotherapy destroys the structure of the nerve. It is like taking the insulation off of a power cord. You exposed the wires and now it shorts. When it shorts, you get the neuropathy symptoms we talked about. The most important thing people need to know is that the nerve once damaged will continue to deteriorate. It is important to remember that not all chemotherapy's will do this. Typically, if you're getting treated for Breast Cancer or Colon Cancer, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A lot of those will cause Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy CIPN.
In the end, if a nerve is damaged it will cause numbness, tingling, burning, pain, balance issues and many more. This is how neuropathy destroys your life! Don't let it win. Taking action is the only way there can be change.