A study conducted at the University of Michigan presented at the recent ASCO meeting in Chicago demonstrated for the first time that antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta) can relieve some of the peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain) that occurs as a side effect of chemotherapy.
The most potent chemotherapies used to treat various cancers, such as paclitaxel and taxotere, often cause severe tingling of the nerves. Many patients discontinue these chemotherapies in spite of their therapeutic benefits, because of this neuropathy. Until now, there was no clinical trial supporting reduced neuropathy by a pharmaceutical agent.
Cymbalta is usually used as an antidepressant drug and can also relieve pain associated with depression. In the trial data presented at ASCO, 33 percent of Cymbalta-treated patients had significant reduction in pain scores compared to 17 percent of patients treated by placebo. Reduction in pain was also accompanied by improvements in mood, general activity and enjoyment of life.
Unlike gabapentin, a drug also used to relieve neuropathy, Cymbalta doesn’t seem to cause somnolence (sleepiness) as a side effect of its benefits.
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