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

What is Taxol?

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

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

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

Important information

Do not use Taxol without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. You should not be given Taxol if you are allergic to paclitaxel, or to other medications that contain an ingredient called Cremophor EL (polyoxyethylated castor oil). This includes cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune) and teniposide (Vumon).

Before you receive Taxol, tell your doctor if you have liver disease, heart disease, or a severely weak immune system.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Taxol can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.

There are many other medicines that can interact with Taxol. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.

Before receiving Taxol

You should not be given Taxol if you are allergic to paclitaxel, or to other medications that contain an ingredient called Cremophor EL (polyoxyethylated castor oil). This includes cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune) and teniposide (Vumon).

Before you receive Taxol, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • heart disease; or

  • a severely weak immune system.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely receive Taxol.

FDA pregnancy category D. Taxol can cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not receive Taxol without telling your doctor 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 Taxol passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not receive Taxol without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is Taxol given?

Taxol is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. Taxol must be given slowly through an IV infusion, and can take up to 24 hours to complete.

Taxol is usually given every 3 weeks. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Before your injection, you may be given other medications to help prevent a serious allergic reaction to Taxol.

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

If any of Taxol gets on your skin, wash the area with soap and warm water right away.

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

Your heart rate may also be monitored through electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG). This machine measures electrical activity of the heart.

Taxol can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss an appointment for your Taxol injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have received too much Taxol.

Overdose symptoms may include numbness or tingling, fever, chills, mouth sores, unusual bleeding or weakness, or any signs of infection.

What should I avoid?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while you are being treated with Taxol.

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Taxol side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; feeling like you might pass out; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • slow heart rate;

  • seizure (black-out or convulsions);

  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;

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

  • increased blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats); or

  • warmth or redness under your skin.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • pain, swelling, redness, or skin color changes where the Taxol was injected;

  • joint or muscle pain;

  • mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; or

  • hair loss.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Taxol?

There are many other medicines that can interact with Taxol. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about Taxol.

What does my medication look like?

Taxol 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 Taxol, especially if it is new to you.

  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. 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. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.
Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.05. Revision Date: 4/12/2009 4:39:49 PM.
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