Docetaxel (Taxotere®)

Warnings: This drug may cause allergic reactions in patients, so if you have had an allergic reaction to this drug before, do not take it again. Complications of treatment-related mortality associated with Taxotere® therapy is increased in patients with abnormal liver function, in patients receiving higher doses, and in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, as well as cancer patients who have history of prior treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy who receive Taxotere® as a single agent at a dose of 100 mg/m2.

It is also reported severe fluid retention in 6.5% (6/92) of patients treated with the medication despite use of a 3-day dexamethasone premedication regimen. In addition, patients may experience severe hypersensitivity reactions characterized by generalized rash, low blood pressure (hypotension) and/or constriction of the air passages of the lung (bronchospasm). Although very rare, fatal anaphylaxis, have been reported in patients who received the recommended 3-day dexamethasone premedication.

Docetaxel can also have adverse effects on elderly patients, and patients who are pregnant or nursing.  Since elderly patients may be more sensitive to side effects, always discuss your risks and benefits with your doctor. This drug is not advised for patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Indication: Docetaxel is a prescription only drug that your doctor may recommend for you if you are diagnosed with specific types of cancers. Some common types of cancers that can be treated with this drug are: stomach cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, breast, and prostate cancer. There are many different types of drugs that have been developed to treat cancer.  This drug belongs to a family of cancer drugs called taxanes. These types of drugs work by helping to slow the growth of cancer cells in your body.

Dosage: This drug is always administered by medical professionals. Your doctor or your nurse will inject you with the drug, usually allowing it to enter your bloodstream over a period of one hour. Most patients are recommended to return every three weeks for continued doses. Your physician will decide what dosage is appropriate for you and what dosing schedule would be most effective. Every patient is different and the effectiveness of the drug can depend on the severity of your condition, your other risks, and your personal response to treatment. Your doctor may alter your therapy occasionally depending on these factors.

Contraindication: There may be several conditions in your situation that would make this drug inadvisable for you to take. Discuss all of your other medical history or current conditions with your doctor. Do not attempt to diagnose or treat yourself if you have other illnesses or symptoms.

Docetaxel is contraindicated or not recommended in these conditions:

  • allergy to Docetaxel or to any of its components
  • pregnancy
  • breast-feeding
  • fluid retention (oedema)
  • low number of white blood
  • severe liver disease.

Mechanism of action (MOA): Docetaxel works by stopping the growth and spread of cancer cells by interfering with their DNA, a genetic material necessary for the growth and reproduction of living cells.

Interactions : Docetaxel may interact with several other types of medications. Keep a list of your medications and discuss them with your doctor before starting this drug.

If you are taking Docetaxel, it is not safe to take aspirin, vitaminsnutritional supplements or St. John’s wort without first talking to your doctor. Certain substances can interact with Docetaxel,and cause health problems. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications:

  • Doxorubicin
  • Vaccines
  • Cyclosporine
  • Erythromycin
  • Terfenadine
  • Carboplatin
  • Cisplatin
  • Ketoconazole

Side effects: In addition to attacking cancer cells, Docetaxel may interfere with healthy cells that multiply quickly, and cause a number of adverse reactions in most patients. Most common Docetaxel side effects include:

  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • n ausea and vomiting
  • sores on your lips or mouth
  • dry mouth
  • change in taste
  • decreased appetite
  • darkening of skin
  • skin rash
  • muscle or limb pain
  • redness or swelling at the injection site
  • White horizontal discoloration of the nail plate

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. Also, contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • nosebleeds
  • blistering skin
  • weakness in the hands and feet
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • fast or irregular heart beat
  • black or tarry stools
  • blood in urine
  • numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the hands or feet
  • severe clinical depression
  • shortness of breath
  • severe pain in the lower back or along the side
  • fever and/or chills
  • rash occurring during or shortly after your treatment
  • difficulty breathing at rest
  • Cough or hoarseness accompanied with fever and/or chills


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