Ask a nurse

Do you have a question about cancer? Our Digital Nurse Ellen or one of our specialist nurses will aim to respond within 2 working days.

Weekly Paclitaxol Neuropathy patterns?

Miss Wolfie
Posted by


I realise everyone is different but i wondered if there is a common point in 12 weekly Paclitaxol treatments where neuropathy is likely to appear/ get worse?  So far i have had 3 with mild burning in my toes and a bit of numbness in my fingers - all manageable, but its like waiting for a thundercloud to burst each time and wondering if I'll be able to go on that planned hike in a months time.. I just wondered if there were any common patterns or signs you might have seen with Taxol and neuropathy??

Feed the Good Wolf
Carole F - Macmillan

Hello Miss Wolfie

Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve had a look at your profile and see that you’re a member of our online Breast Cancer group. It’s great to see members, like yourself, sharing experiences and offering support to each other. You’ve certainly been there for others in the group, and we’d like to say thanks!

Unfortunately peripheral neuropathy is a common side effect of paclitaxel. And like you describe, the hands and feet are most commonly affected. Side effects can increase with each cycle, and the onset of symptoms is usually associated with dose – patients treated with a higher dose may develop symptoms after the first cycle.

The research is very contradictory, with some suggesting side effects can be worse with weekly paclitaxel and others suggesting the opposite. Studies have looked at whether a short/long infusion time affects the onset of side effects – results are also contradictory.

It’s difficult to say whether you’ll be fit for a hike next month, but it might be worth having a look at our information on the management of peripheral neuropathy.

I hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to get back in touch if you have further questions. If you’d like to talk things through with one of the nurses, we’re here 7 days a week from 8am till 8pm.

Best wishes

Carole (Macmillan Information Nurse Specialist)

Miss Wolfie
Posted by

Thanks Carole,

yes i I suppose I’m just desperately trying to find some kind of pattern or know what to expect where there is no certainty! Like everything else with those disease.. thanks for your answer and I shall go back to focussing in one day at a time! 

All the best


Feed the Good Wolf