Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to peripheral nerves. These are the nerves located away from the centre of the body, such as in the hands and feet, and the damage can cause a range of symptoms.

Cancer or cancer treatment can damage the peripheral nerves and lead to peripheral neuropathy. Unlike other cells in the body, nerve cells are not easily repaired or replaced once they are badly damaged. However, there are ways to manage the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

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What are the symptoms?

People affected by peripheral neuropathy may experience different symptoms, depending on which peripheral nerves are damaged. No two cases are exactly the same.

Most often, the nerve damage causes numbness, tingling (“pins and needles”) or pain in the hands and feet. If the condition worsens, these symptoms may start to spread further up the arms and legs.

Other symptoms may include muscle weakness, dizziness, balance problems, trouble sensing where your body is in space, ringing in the ears, hearing loss and constipation.

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms range from mild to severe, they can appear during or after treatment, and they may be temporary or permanent. In more severe cases, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can greatly affect a person’s quality of life, but there are usually ways to manage any changes.

Learn more about the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.


About the nervous system

The nervous system controls everything your body does. It has two main parts:

  • central nervous system – the brain and spinal cord
  • peripheral nervous system – a network of nerves that carry messages between the brain and spinal cord, and the body.

Nervous System

 How nerves work

  • Nerves are made up of nerve cells called neurons.
  • When a nerve ending is stimulated, a tiny electrical signal is sent from neuron to neuron, eventually reaching the spinal cord and brain.
  • When a peripheral nerve is damaged (e.g. by chemotherapy), the electrical signals may be blocked or mixed up. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF fact sheet on peripheral neuropathy


    Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
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  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
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Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
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This information was last reviewed in January 2020
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