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All about: paclitaxel

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Generic Name: paclitaxel (pack lih TACK sell)
Brand Names: Onxol, Taxol

What is paclitaxel?

Paclitaxel is a cancer (antineoplastic) medication. Paclitaxel interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Paclitaxel is used in the treatment breast, ovary and lung cancers, and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma.

Paclitaxel may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about paclitaxel?

Paclitaxel should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

Serious side effects have been reported with the use of paclitaxel including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; fever or chills; or signs of infection); numbness or tingling; irregular heartbeats; and others. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment with paclitaxel.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking paclitaxel?

Do not take paclitaxel without first talking to your doctor if you have
  • had an allergic reaction to other drugs that contain polyoxyethylated castor oil (Cremophor EL) such as cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune) or teniposide (Vumon);

  • liver disease;
  • heart disease; or

  • poor bone marrow function.

The use of paclitaxel may be dangerous if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Paclitaxel is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that paclitaxel is known to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use paclitaxel without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant. Discuss with your doctor the appropriate use of birth control during treatment with paclitaxel if either you or your partner is of childbearing potential. It is not known whether paclitaxel passes into breast milk. Do not take paclitaxel without first talking to your doctor if you are breast feeding a baby.

How should I use paclitaxel?

Paclitaxel should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

Your doctor will determine the correct amount and frequency of treatment with paclitaxel depending upon the type of cancer being treated and other factors. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding the treatment schedule.

Your doctor will probably want you to have regularly scheduled blood tests and other medical evaluations during treatment with paclitaxel to monitor progress and side effects.

Skin accidentally exposed to paclitaxel should be rinsed thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Your healthcare provider will store paclitaxel as directed by the manufacturer. If you are storing paclitaxel at home, follow the directions provided by your healthcare provider.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss a dose of paclitaxel.

What happens if I overdose?

If for any reason an overdose of paclitaxel is suspected, seek emergency medical attention or contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Symptoms of a paclitaxel overdose tend to be similar to side effects caused by the medication, although often more severe.

What should I avoid while using paclitaxel?

Do not receive "live" vaccines during treatment with paclitaxel. Administration of a live vaccine may be dangerous during treatment with paclitaxel.

Skin accidentally exposed to paclitaxel should be rinsed thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Paclitaxel side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects from paclitaxel, seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:

  • an allergic reaction (including difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

  • decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; fever or chills; or signs of infection);

  • liver damage (abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;

  • numbness or tingling; or

  • irregular heartbeats.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue taking paclitaxel and talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • tissue or vein reactions near the site of administration;

  • joint or muscle pain;

  • sores in the mouth;

  • hair loss; or

  • mild to moderate nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.

Other side effects have also been reported. Discuss with your doctor any side effect that occurs during treatment with paclitaxel.

What other drugs will affect paclitaxel?

Do not receive "live" vaccines during treatment with paclitaxel. Administration of a live vaccine may be dangerous during treatment with paclitaxel.

Paclitaxel can interact with many other medications, including other chemotherapy drugs. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including herbal products, during treatment with paclitaxel.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your healthcare provider may have additional information about paclitaxel that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Paclitaxel is available with a prescription under the brand names Onxol and Taxol. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.03. Revision Date: 2/13/04 4:03:05 PM.

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