Calcium-magnesium infusion doesn't prevent neuropathy

Vol. 3, Issue 1, 2014


Researchers discredit a common practice intended to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Photograph showing Charles Loprinzi, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Cancer Center oncologist

Charles L. Loprinzi, M.D.

For years, many physicians have prescribed intravenous calcium and magnesium for patients receiving chemotherapy to reduce the side effect of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Now, a group of researchers led by Charles L. Loprinzi, M.D., an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, has published a definitive paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology detailing the results of a randomized phase III trial showing that this common prescribing practice is medically unnecessary.

The findings were considered so important that the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) selected the study for inclusion in "Clinical Cancer Advances 2013: Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer From the American Society of Clinical Oncology."

The trial included 353 patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for colon cancer. Patients were randomized into three groups. One group received intravenous calcium and magnesium, while another group received a placebo before and after chemotherapy. The third group in the trial included patients who received calcium and magnesium before chemotherapy and a placebo after chemotherapy.

"There was no substantial difference in either acute or chronic chemotherapy-induced neuropathy between patients who received calcium and magnesium and those who did not," Dr. Loprinzi said. "Stopping this practice should save patients valuable time, free up resources and reduce costs."