Original Study|Articles in Press

Mild Cryotherapy for Prevention of Paclitaxel-Induced Nail Toxicity in Breast Cancer Patients: A Phase II Single-Arm Clinical Trial

Published:March 07, 2023DOI:



      Nail changes are among the most common dermatological adverse events in paclitaxel-receiving patients. Although effective, low-temperature prophylactic cryotherapy is discomforting and a potential cause of side effects, resulting in low patients’ adherence.

      Patients and Methods

      A phase II single-arm study evaluating mild cryotherapy for the reduction of 12-week, grade 2 nail toxicity was conducted on 67 taxane-naïve breast cancer patients (age 18-74 years) undergoing weekly adjuvant chemotherapy with paclitaxel. Instant-ice packs were fixed over the fingers and toes for a total of 70 minutes during paclitaxel infusion at a temperature between -5 °C and +5 °C. Nail toxicity was evaluated weekly (CTCAE vs 4.03), including grade 2 (ie, onycholysis, subungual hematoma, onychomadesis) and grade 1 nail toxicities.


      Twelve patients experienced grade 2 nail toxicities (17.9%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 9.6%-29.2%; median time to onset: 56 days): onycholysis was the most frequent grade 2 toxicity (13.4%), followed by subungual hematoma (9.0%) and onychomadesis (1.5%). Grade 1 toxicity occurred in 33 patients (63.5%, 95% CI 49.0%-76.4%) with nail discoloration representing by far the most frequent toxicity (59.6%). Seventeen patients (25.4%) reported no nail toxicity. 62.7% of patients reported no pain and 22.4% suffered moderate pain. No patient experienced severe pain or others adverse effects.


      Instant-ice pack is a feasible prophylactic intervention for nail toxicity, well tolerated by patients and with limited impact on routine workload. It could be considered for patients refusing (or interrupting) cryotherapy, and it can be implemented when frozen gloves management is not feasible.



      CI (confidence intervals), CTCAE (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events), IQR (interquartile range)
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