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Can chemotherapy cause Parkinson's disease?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
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Can chemotherapy cause Parkinson's disease? My mother died at 74 from the disease. I am 53 and just recently completed carboplatin and taxotere and Herceptin every 3 weeks for a year. My father also had essential/familial tremor but subsequent to completion of chemotherapy, my tremors; particularly in my left hand are causing me and my primary doctor some concern.
Posted Wed, 25 Apr 2012 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 2 hours later

Thanks for posting your query.

The exact cause of Parkinsonism is not known but there is increasing evidence that Parkinson's disease may be inherited (passed on genetically from family members). So if your mother had parkinsonism then there are chances that you may inherit it too.

Although there are a number of medications that can predispose to parkinsonism like antipsychotic medicines, Dopamine-depleting agents, including reserpine (rarely used) and tetrabenazine and heroin, chemotherapeutic drugs are not directly involved in causing this disease.

However, a group of medicines called phenothiazines which are drugs used for treating the vomiting and nausea that often accompany chemotherapy may cause secondary parkinsonism, because they block the receptors that dopamine usually binds to within the brain. You can check whether you are taking metoclopramide or any other antiemetic.

Apart from this cause, the other causes of tremors needs to be ascertained. These include intention tremors and resting tremors. I suggest you to get a neurological examination done.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you a good health.

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