Patricia Braden liked hiking for hours in the woods and walking her Corgi-mix dog near her home in Greensboro, NC. The retired clinical psychologist also enjoyed long conversations with friends, family, and her clients. But those days are over because of peripheral neuropathy and the side effects — such as problems with balance and concentration — of drugs used to treat it. She is not alone. An estimated 20 million people in the US have some form of peripheral neuropathy, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. The condition results from damage to the peripheral nervous system, the nerves…

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When April Pulliam first treated her chest with the chemotherapy cream Efudex, the itching, burning, seeping sores were to be expected, as the cream activated potentially precancerous spots. The nausea, nagging headaches and fatigue were not. “I was surprised that a cream could make me feel tired and run-down,” the third-grade teacher from Bolivar, Tennessee, said. Then she realized that it made sense. “It’s chemotherapy in a cream,” she said. The amount absorbed into the system is supposedly limited with topical use, but that doesn’t prevent a wider reaction from occurring. “Skin isn’t isolated,” said Adam Friedman, MD, a professor…

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