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All about: Paclitaxel

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Generic Name: Paclitaxel (Protein-Bound Particles) Injection (PAK-li-tax-el)
Brand Name: Abraxane

Paclitaxel must be administered in an appropriate medical setting under close medical supervision. Patients with metastatic breast cancer who also have extremely low neutrophil (a type of white blood cell) counts should not use Paclitaxel . Frequent blood tests should be performed while you are using Paclitaxel to monitor for bone marrow suppression and serious infection. Do not substitute or interchange Paclitaxel with other forms of paclitaxel.


Paclitaxel is used for:

Treating breast cancer in certain patients. It may also be used for other types of cancer as determined by your doctor.

Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy medicine. It works by slowing or stopping cancer cells from dividing and growing, so they eventually die.

Do NOT use Paclitaxel if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Paclitaxel
  • you have extremely low white blood cell counts (eg, extremely low neutrophil counts)
  • you have shingles or chickenpox

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Paclitaxel :

Some medical conditions may interact with Paclitaxel . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a bacterial or viral infection, HIV infection, liver or kidney problems, a history of heart problems or heart attack, bone marrow problems, or blood problems (low platelet or neutrophil counts)
  • if you are undergoing radiation therapy
  • if you have ever had an allergic reaction to an insect sting

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Paclitaxel . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Ketoconazole because side effects of Paclitaxel may be increased
  • Warfarin or doxorubicin because side effects may be increased by Paclitaxel

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Paclitaxel may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Paclitaxel :

Use Paclitaxel as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Paclitaxel comes with an additional patient leaflet. Read it carefully and reread it each time you get Paclitaxel refilled.
  • Paclitaxel is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions that you may have about Paclitaxel .
  • If nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite occurs, do not discontinue your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for ways to lessen these effects.
  • Wear gloves while handling Paclitaxel .
  • If you get Paclitaxel on your skin, rinse the area thoroughly with soap and water. If you get Paclitaxel in your eyes, nose, or mouth, flush the area thoroughly with water.
  • If you miss a dose of Paclitaxel , contact your doctor immediately.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Paclitaxel .

Important safety information:

  • Some patients develop redness or sores in the mouth or on the lips. These symptoms may occur a few days after treatment with Paclitaxel and usually decrease or disappear in 1 week. Talk with your doctor about proper mouth care and other ways to prevent or reduce this side effect.
  • Paclitaxel may cause dizziness or blurred vision. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to Paclitaxel . Using Paclitaxel alone, with certain other medicines, or with alcohol may lessen your ability to drive or to perform other potentially dangerous tasks.
  • Paclitaxel contains albumin, which comes from human blood. There is an extremely rare risk of developing a viral disease, or a central nervous system disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. No cases of viral disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from albumin have been identified.
  • Paclitaxel may lower your body's ability to fight infection. Prevent infection by avoiding contact with people with colds or other infections. Notify your doctor of any signs of infection, including fever, sore throat, rashes, or chills. Also, do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have thoroughly washed your hands first.
  • Paclitaxel may reduce the number of blood cells that are needed for clotting. Report any unusual bleeding, bruising, blood in the stools, or dark, tarry stools immediately to your doctor.
  • If you have not had chickenpox or measles, avoid contact with anyone who has either of these diseases or shingles.
  • Check with your doctor before having immunizations (vaccinations).
  • Before you have any medical or dental treatments, emergency care, or surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using Paclitaxel .
  • LAB TESTS, including blood counts and liver function tests, will be required to monitor your progress and check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use an effective form of birth control (eg, condoms) during sexual intercourse with a woman of childbearing age while you are using Paclitaxel .
  • Women of childbearing age should use an effective form of birth control (eg, condoms) while using Paclitaxel .
  • PREGNANCY AND BREAST-FEEDING: Paclitaxel has been shown to cause harm to the human fetus. If you plan on becoming pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Paclitaxel during pregnancy. It is unknown if Paclitaxel is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while using Paclitaxel .

Possible side effects of Paclitaxel :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Cough; diarrhea; general feeling of discomfort; hair loss; mild discomfort, redness, or swelling at the injection site; mild joint or muscle pain; nausea; numbness, tingling, or burning of your arms, hands, legs, or feet; redness and/or sores on the mouth or lips; unusual weakness or tiredness; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty swallowing or breathing; tightness in the chest; flushing; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat; hoarseness); blistering, swelling, redness, severe pain, or open sores on your skin or at the injection site; change in the amount of urine produced; chest pain; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sore throat); pale appearance; redness, swelling, or tenderness in the calf; severe joint or muscle pain; severe nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; severe numbness, tingling, or burning in the arms, hands, legs, or feet; severe stomach pain; swelling of arms, hands, legs, or feet; sudden or severe dizziness, lightheadedness, or headache; unusual bruising or bleeding; vision changes or blurred vision.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of Paclitaxel :

Store Paclitaxel as directed on the prescription label. Keep Paclitaxel out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Paclitaxel , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Paclitaxel is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Paclitaxel . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition 07.3.1.003
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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