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Breast Cancer Drug - Taxol (Paclitaxel) - Side Effects, Risks, Recommendations

Side Effects, Risks, Recommendations

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Updated April 15, 2014

Taxol Molecule

This model of a taxol molecule was computer generated. Taxol, originally extracted from the pacific yew tree (taxus brevifolin), is used as chemotherapy for a variety of cancers.

George McGregor. National Cancer Institute
Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug that is given for breast cancer. Also called Taxol®, it is part of the drug class taxanes, which includes docetaxel (Taxotere®) and Abraxane®, which are made from Yew trees (genus Taxus).

Taxol is well-tolerated, especially in low doses, and side effects are often mild. You probably won't have all of these side effects, but here are some which may occur.

Possible Side effects:

  • Peripheral neuropathy (tingling and numbness in hands and feet due to irritation of nerves)
  • Neutropenia (low white blood cell count, greater risk of infection)
  • Bone and muscle aches
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Mucositis (irritated mucous membrane in your mouth)
  • Amenhorrea (monthly menstrual cycle stops)
  • Changes in nails (brittle or yellowed)
Risks of use: Recommendations during treatment:
  • Use L-Glutamine to prevent neuropathy
  • Have injections (Neupogen, Neulasta) to boost white blood cell counts
  • Use contraception
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Don’t take aspirin
  • Don’t get vaccinations
  • Protect nails with clear polish
Taxol - Use for Breast Cancer Treatment, Description, Dosage

Sources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Oncology Tools Product Label Details in Conventional Order for Paclitaxel. Last updated: July 1, 1998. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/onctools/labels.cfm?GN=paclitaxel.

National Cancer Institute. Drug Information – Paclitaxel. Last Updated: 06/14/2007. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/druginfo/paclitaxel.

American Cancer Society. Drug Guide. Paclitaxel. Last updated: 2004 http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CDG/content/CDG_paclitaxel.asp.

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