Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a recognized adverse effect of standard (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer (BC) treatment. However, there is no consensus on a validated method for assessing CIPN. Heart rate variability (HRV) and vibration perception threshold (VPT) could be used as objective measures to describe CIPN. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate whether subjectively reported CIPN was associated with altered HRV and VPT in BC patients.
We performed a cross-sectional pilot study evaluating 30 BCE patients previously treated with chemotherapy, 26 BCE patients who did not receive chemotherapy, and 22 controls without breast cancer. Self-reported CIPN was registered for the BC patients. All participants were subjected to multi-frequency vibration analyses to determine VPT along with short ECG measurements to determine HRV measures.
Self-reported CIPN was registered in 14 (46.6%) BC patients treated with chemotherapy. The VPT at 64 Hz (P = 0.022) and mean HR (P = 0.022) were significantly higher and the HRV measures SDNN (P = 0.023), RMSSD (P = 0.007), LF (P = 0.050) and HF (P = 0.045) were significantly lower in BC patients reporting CIPN compared to controls when adjusted for age. VPT at 64 Hz and 125 Hz were significantly higher in BC patients not reporting CIPN compared to controls when adjusted for age.
We found elevated VPT and mean HR along with decreased HRV parameters in 14 BCE patients reporting CIPN. These findings support the need for further investigation into whether HRV and vibration analysis could contribute to an objective assessment of CIPN.

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