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Generic Name: paclitaxel (PAK li TAK sel)
Brand Name: Onxol

What is paclitaxel?

Paclitaxel is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Paclitaxel is used to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer. It is also used to treat AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma.

Paclitaxel may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

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

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; feeling like you might pass out; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

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Paclitaxel can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. You may get an infection or bleed more easily. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches).

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

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to paclitaxel, or to other medications that contain an ingredient called Cremophor EL (polyoxyethylated castor oil). This includes cyclosporine and teniposide.

To make sure paclitaxel is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • HIV, AIDS, or Kaposi's sarcoma;

  • heart disease;

  • high blood pressure; or

  • liver disease.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not receive paclitaxel if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether paclitaxel passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using paclitaxel.

How is paclitaxel given?

Paclitaxel is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection. You may be given other medications to prevent an allergic reaction while you are receiving paclitaxel.

Paclitaxel is usually given once every 3 weeks. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, kidney function, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving paclitaxel.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when paclitaxel is injected.

Paclitaxel can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your paclitaxel injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using paclitaxel?

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of paclitaxel.

This medicine can pass into body fluids (including urine, feces, vomit, semen, vaginal fluid). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Patients and caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

Body fluids should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Use condoms during sexual activity to avoid exposure to body fluids.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using paclitaxel. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

Paclitaxel side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; feeling like you might pass out; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;

  • pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;

  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);

  • slow heart rate, feeling like you might pass out;

  • seizure (convulsions);

  • chest pain, dry cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;

  • numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands or feet;

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • severe redness or swelling, severe irritation, a hard lump, or skin changes where the injection was given.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation;

  • weakness;

  • joint or muscle pain;

  • darkening of your skin or nails; or

  • temporary hair loss.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect paclitaxel?

Many drugs can interact with paclitaxel. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your medications and any you start or stop using during treatment with paclitaxel, especially:

  • bosentan;

  • cyclosporine;

  • imatinib;

  • nefazodone;

  • St. John's wort;

  • an antibiotic--clarithromycin, nafcillin, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine, telithromycin;

  • antifungal medication--itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole;

  • heart medication--nicardipine, quinidine;

  • hepatitis C medications--boceprevir, telaprevir;

  • HIV/AIDS medication--atazanavir, delavirdine, efavirenz, fosamprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir, saquinavir; or

  • seizure medication--carbamazepine, fosphenytoin, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone.

This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with paclitaxel. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about paclitaxel.
  • 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.
  • Disclaimer: 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 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.03. Revision Date: 2013-07-09, 10:48:29 AM.

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