Diagnosing peripheral neuropathy

If you are having chemotherapy that has a high risk of causing nerve damage, your treatment team will monitor you closely for early signs of peripheral neuropathy. In other cases, peripheral neuropathy may be diagnosed after you report symptoms to your cancer specialist or general practitioner (GP).

If your doctor suspects that you have peripheral neuropathy, they will check how the symptoms affect your daily life and may ask you to complete a symptom checklist.

The doctor may also check your:

  • awareness of where your body is – you close your eyes and answer questions about the position of parts of your body
  • reflexes – your ankles, knees and wrists are tapped with a small hammer to check their automatic movement
  • balance and coordination – you may be asked to walk in a straight line or balance on one leg
  • blood pressure – your blood pressure is measured when you are lying down and standing up to see if there is a difference.

In some cases, your cancer specialist or GP may refer you to a neurologist, a specialist doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the nervous system. They may arrange special tests known as nerve conduction studies, which check how many cells are working and how quickly they send electrical signals along to the next cells.

Based on your symptoms and test results, your doctors may give the peripheral neuropathy a grade. Different grading systems are used in Australia, but a common one has grades 1 to 3, with grade 3 being the most severe and needing urgent attention.


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    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™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • 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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You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in January 2020
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