Venlafaxine has a significant clinical activity against taxane-oxaliplatin-induced acute neurosensory toxicity in patients with cancer, a new case-control study published online ahead of print in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer has shown.1

Because oxaliplatin and taxane-induced neurosensory toxicity is dose-limiting and typically presents with acute symptoms that negatively impact overall quality of life and the activities of daily living, researchers sought to evaluate the relief acute neurotoxicity with venlafaxine treatment during the chemotherapy period.

Venlafaxine is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. It is also used for the treatment of neuropathic pain in some patients.

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For the study, researchers analyzed data from 206 patients who experienced oxaliplatin- and taxane-induced acute neurotoxicity. Most patients had breast, colon, or gynecologic cancer. Of the 206 patients, 91 received venlafaxine and 115 served as the control group. Patients were assessed for neurotoxicity every 3 weeks.

Results showed that 53.5%, 58.3%, and 45.2% of patients in the venlafaxine arm experienced greater than 75% symptomatic relief during their first, second, and third visit, respectively, whereas none of the patients in the control arm experienced symptomatic relief greater than 75% at any visit.

In regard to safety, the most common venlafaxine-associated adverse events were grade 1 to 2 nausea/vomiting and asthenia/somnolence. No patients experienced grade 3 to 4 adverse events.


1. Kus T, Aktas G, Alpak G, et al. Efficacy of venlafaxine for the relief of taxane and oxalipatin-induced acute neurotoxicity: a single-center retrospective case-control study [published online ahead of print November 7, 2015]. Support Care Cancer. doi:10.1007/s00520-015-3009-x.