Generic Name: paclitaxel (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 because of the risk of 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 is also used along with carboplatin to treat non-small cell lung cancer in certain patients. It is also used along with gemcitabine to treat cancer of the pancreas. 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 taken or will be taking palifermin within 24 hours before or after using paclitaxel
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, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are able to become pregnant
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances (including albumin)
- if you have a bacterial or viral infection, or HIV infection
- if you have a history of a heart attack or other heart problems (eg, irregular heartbeat), liver or kidney problems, bone marrow problems, or blood problems (eg, low blood platelet or white blood cell counts)
- if you are undergoing radiation therapy
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with paclitaxel. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Palifermin because if mouth or tongue sores develop, they may be more severe or last longer
- Azole antifungals (eg, itraconazole, ketoconazole), benzodiazepines (eg, midazolam, triazolam), buspirone, cimetidine, cisplatin, eletriptan, felodipine, fluoxetine, gemfibrozil, HIV protease inhibitors (eg, indinavir, ritonavir), HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (eg, lovastatin, simvastatin), macrolide antibiotics (eg, clarithromycin, erythromycin), nefazodone, repaglinide, rosiglitazone, sildenafil, or telithromycin because they may increase the risk of paclitaxel's side effects
- Carbamazepine, efavirenz, nevirapine, phenytoin, or rifampin because they may decrease paclitaxel's effectiveness
- Doxorubicin because the risk of its 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.
- An extra patient leaflet is available with paclitaxel. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
- Paclitaxel is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
- 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 right away.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use paclitaxel.
Important safety information:
- Severe and sometimes fatal allergic reactions have occurred with the use of paclitaxel. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience shortness of breath; flushing; fainting; dizziness; chest pain; irregular heartbeat; rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue. If you have had an allergic reaction to paclitaxel before, talk with your doctor to determine if you should take paclitaxel or if you will need to take medicine before you receive it to decrease the risk of an allergic reaction.
- 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 vision changes. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use paclitaxel with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- Paclitaxel contains albumin, which comes from human blood. There is a very rare risk of getting a viral disease or a central nervous system disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from products with albumin. No cases of these problems have been found in patients who have used paclitaxel.
- Paclitaxel may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection such as fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
- Paclitaxel may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. Avoid activities that may cause bruising or injury. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding. Tell your doctor if you have dark, tarry, or bloody stools.
- Do not receive a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps) while you are using paclitaxel. Talk with your doctor before you receive any vaccine.
- Tell your doctor or dentist that you take paclitaxel before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
- Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts and liver function, may be performed while you use paclitaxel. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- Use paclitaxel with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially bone marrow problems, decreased appetite, dehydration, diarrhea, nerve problems, nosebleeds, or joint problems.
- Paclitaxel should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
- Women who may become pregnant should use effective birth control (eg, condoms) while using paclitaxel. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about effective birth control.
- Men should not father a child while using paclitaxel. Use effective birth control when having sex with a woman who may become pregnant. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about effective birth control.
- PREGNANCY AND BREAST-FEEDING: Paclitaxel may cause harm to the fetus. Avoid becoming pregnant while you are using it. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using paclitaxel while you are pregnant. It is not known if paclitaxel is found 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:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Constipation; cough; decreased appetite; diarrhea; general feeling of discomfort; hair loss; mild joint or muscle pain; nausea; numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the hands or feet; redness and/or sores on the mouth or lips; weakness or tiredness; vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty swallowing or breathing; tightness in the chest; flushing; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat; hoarseness); calf or leg redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness; change in the amount of urine produced; chest pain; confusion; coughing up blood; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; mental or mood problems (eg, depression); nosebleeds; one-sided weakness; open sores on the skin; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; pale appearance; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; severe or persistent dizziness, light-headedness, or headache; severe or persistent joint or muscle pain; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; severe or persistent numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the hands or feet; severe or persistent stomach pain; shortness of breath; slurred speech; sudden, dry, persistent cough; sudden, unexplained weight gain; swelling of the arms, hands, legs, or feet; symptoms of dehydration (eg, dry mouth or eyes, increased thirst, sluggishness); symptoms of infection (eg, fever, chills, sore throat); symptoms of liver problems (eg, dark urine, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin or eyes); unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision changes (eg, blurred vision); white patches in the mouth.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.Proper storage of paclitaxel:
Paclitaxel is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. Keep paclitaxel out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- 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.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take paclitaxel or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about paclitaxel. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to paclitaxel. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using paclitaxel.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.