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OBJECTIVES: Neurological complications including pain are common after treatment for breast cancer. This prospective study investigated the symptoms, intensity and interference of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuro-pathy. (CIPN) in the feet and hands compared to surgery- and radiation-induced neuropathy in the breast and upper arm. METHODS: Consecutive patients referred to surgery for breast cancer were included in a prospective study and completed a questionnaire at baseline and a follow-up questionnaire and interview after one year. CIPN was assessed with the CIPN20 questionnaire and the Michigan Neuropathy Screening Instrument questionnaire (MNSIq). Pain intensity was rated on a numeric rating scale (NRS, 0-10). RESULTS: In total 144 patients were included, of which 73 received chemotherapy. At one-year follow-up, symptoms of polyneuropathy were more common in patients treated with chemotherapy. Tingling or numbness in the feet in those treated/not treated with chemotherapy was reported by 44 (62%) and 15 (21%), respectively. Pain was present in 22 (30%) and 10 (14%), respectively. Pain in the area of surgery was reported by 66 (46%). Although less common, pain in the feet in those treated with chemotherapy was rated as more intense and with more daily life interference than pain in the surgical area (NRS 5.5 (SD 1.9) vs. 3.1 (SD 1.9). CONCLUSIONS: Neurological complications including pain following surgery and chemotherapy represent a burden to breast cancer survivors. In those who had received chemotherapy, pain in the feet was less common than pain in the surgical area, but pain in the feet was more intense and had a higher interference with daily life. Our study emphasizes the need for either baseline data or a control population for improved estimation of the presence and severity of CIPN and pain from questionnaires.

Original publication




Journal article


Scand J Pain

Publication Date



CIPN, breast cancer, chemotherapy, lumpectomy, mastectomy, polyneuropathy