Thank you for your query. Please know that it is difficult to give a "specific" response, since I am unaware of your primary tumor type, as well as the "chemo" agents that you received leading to the severe neuropathy in your feet. There are multiple classifications of agents given that may result in peripheral neuropathies with variable symptoms. Some of the agents attributed to peripheral neuropathies include the vinca alkaloids, taxanes, platinum agents, thalidomide, revlimid, and bortezomib (Velcade). The list can go on, yet these are some of the more common agents. We like to think that the symptoms you experience during chemothrapy will go away after the therapy. Most symptoms do resolve, as normal tissue recovers from the "therapy assult." Peripheral Neuropathy is another story and it does depend on the agent(s), including dose regime, and pre-existing co-mobidities the individual may have. An example of "pre-existing co-morbidity is someone who has diabetic neuropathy prior to cancer therapy and is placed on a regimen that includes agent(s) with peripheral neuropathy as a potential side effect.
Severe neuropathy in feet is quite a challenge. I would like to refer you to the:
1. The Learning Center at MDACC. It is a free consumer health library with cutting-edge information on cancer care, support, prevention and general health and wellness. The staff is knowledgeable and willing to help locate specific information on just about any topic related to supporting cancer patients and their families. The Learning Center has a wonderful four page compilation resource dedicates to Peripheral Neuropathies on the Patient Education website. Peripheral neuropathies may reflect damage to the peripheral nerve in one or all of the following "divisons": Sensory (normal sensations such as temperature and pain); Motor (movement - maintainance of muscle strength and coordination); and Autonomic (involuntary activities such as heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration and intestinal activity). The handout at the Learning Center acknowledges wonderful Internet Resources including: Houston Neuropathy Support Group (http://winoverpn.com/houston.html); National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/peripheralneuropathy.htm); Neuropathy Association (www.neuropathy.org); and Peripheral Neuropathy e-Support Group (www.geocities.com/hotsprings/sauna/2443). There are several resource books, as well, that can be checked out from the Learning Center. The two largest Learning Centers at MDACC are located in the Main Building on 4th floor near Elevator A (713-745-8063) and in the Mays Clinic on 2nd floor, near the Tree Sculpture (713-563-8010).
2. Place of Wellness. This resource is such a valuable tool for patients and famlies in the community. It is available to any cancer familiy, including non-MDACC patients. The Place of Wellness is an environment where all persons touched by cancer may enhance their quality of life through programs that complement medical care and focus on the mind, body and spirit. There are more than 75 complementary therapy programs offered; most free of charge, with exception of acupuncture and full body massage. I have heard that some of the studies using acupuncture for peripheral neuropathy are very positive and reduce the discomfort significantly. Perhaps you might want to check this out. Please know that the charges for acupuncture, as well as for massage, are nominal. You might also wish to schedule an individual consult for guided imagery, self-hypnosis or stress management, which might help to better manage your peripheral neuropathy. For more information you can contact the Place of Wellness at 713-794-4700.
Your e-mail asks, "Should I have them checked out?" My response is, "Yes." When you return to see your physician for a checkup make certain to share the intensity of your peripheral neuropathy, after over three years. There are currently no evidence-based interventions for peripheral neuropathy. Some additional treatment interventions that may be beneficial for delayed peripheral neuropathies, in addition to accupuncture, include: Pulsed Infrared Light Therapy (Anodyne Therapy), Spinal Cord Stimulation, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and High-Frequency External Muscle Stimulation. (Reference - Putting Evidence into Practice: Improving Oncology Patient Outcomes by Linda Eaton and Janelle tipton, published by the Oncology Nursing Society, 2009.)
I am hopeful this response provides some meaningful resources for you. God bless you! Millie :)