Skip to Content

Taxol Side Effects

Generic Name: paclitaxel

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug paclitaxel. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Taxol.

For the Consumer

Applies to paclitaxel: intravenous solution

As well as its needed effects, paclitaxel (the active ingredient contained in Taxol) may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking paclitaxel, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

More common:
  • Black or tarry stools
  • blurred vision
  • burning, numbness, tingling, or painful sensations
  • confusion
  • cough or hoarseness with fever or chills
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • feeling of warmth
  • fever or chills
  • lower back or side pain
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale skin
  • redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash or itching
  • sore throat
  • sweating
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
  • unsteadiness or awkwardness
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
Less common:
  • Blood in the urine or stools
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • shortness of breath (severe)
  • slow heartbeat
  • tightness in the chest
  • wheezing
Incidence not known:
  • Anxiety
  • blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • difficult or troubled breathing
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • sudden shortness of breath

Minor Side Effects

Some paclitaxel side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of the skin, feeling of pressure, hives, infection, inflammation, itching, lumps, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, or warmth at the injection site
  • cracked lips
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • hair loss
  • nausea or vomiting
  • numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • pain in the joints or muscles, especially in the arms or legs
  • thinning of the hair

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to paclitaxel: intravenous solution


Renal side effects including edema have been reported in 21% of all patients receiving paclitaxel (the active ingredient contained in Taxol) and 17% of patients without baseline edema. Severe edema has been reported in 1% of patients.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects including transient skin changes due to hypersensitivity reactions and skin abnormalities related to radiation recall have been reported. Alopecia (87%) and cumulative loss of body hair have also been reported. Some reports suggest that paclitaxel (the active ingredient contained in Taxol) may cause vesicant reactions when extravasated. Nail changes including changes in pigmentation or discoloration of the nail bed have been reported (2%). Two cases of cutaneous lupus erythematosus and one case of systemic lupus erythematosus have been reported. Two cases of scleroderma-like reactions have been reported. A case of paclitaxel administration via a central vein producing a recall reaction at a site of prior paclitaxel extravasation has also been reported. A case of severe mucocutaneous toxicity and a case of cutaneous systemic sclerosis have been reported.[Ref]

Alopecia usually begins 1 to 2 weeks after treatment and is usually reversible.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects including radiation recall pneumonitis have been reported.[Ref]


Local side effects have included injection site reactions. Phlebitis has been reported rarely.[Ref]

Injection site reactions, including reactions secondary to extravasation, were usually mild and consisted of erythema, tenderness, skin discoloration, or swelling at the injection site.[Ref]


Other side effects including cellulitis have been reported rarely.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects have included vital sign changes including bradycardia (3%) and hypotension (12%) during the first 3 hours of infusion as stated by the manufacturer. Significant cardiovascular events (1%) including syncope, rhythm abnormalities, hypertension and venous thrombosis have also been reported. A report from the Johns Hopkins oncology center stated that asymptomatic sinus bradycardia occurred in up to 29% of patients in phase 2 trails, and that other cardiac disturbances including atrioventricular conduction and bundle branch blocks, ventricular tachycardia, and possible ischemic manifestations had been reported (3%). A case of fatal myocardial infarction potentially induced by paclitaxel (the active ingredient contained in Taxol) has also been reported.[Ref]

The manufacturer further states that abnormal ECG readings have been reported in 23% of all patients receiving paclitaxel and in 14% of the patients with normal baseline ECGs. The most frequently reported ECG modifications were nonspecific repolarization abnormalities, sinus bradycardia, sinus tachycardia and premature beats.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Taxol (paclitaxel)." Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ.

2. Phillips KA, Urch M, Bishop JF "Radiatin-recall dermatitis in a patient treated with paclitaxel." J Clin Oncol 13 (1995): 305

3. Meehan JL, Sporn JR "Case report of taxol administration via central vein producing a recall reaction at a site of prior taxol extravasation." J Natl Cancer Inst 86 (1994): 1250-1

4. Kupfer I, Balguerie X, Courville P, Chinet P, Joly P "Scleroderma-like cutaneous lesions induced by paclitaxel: A case study." J Am Acad Dermatol 48 (2003): 279-81

5. Schweitzer VG, Juillard GJ, Bajada CL, Parker RG "Radiation recall dermatitis and pneumonitis in a patient treated with paclitaxel." Cancer 76 (1995): 1069-72

6. Payne JY, Holmes F, Cohen PR, Gagel R, Buzdar A, Dhingra K "Paclitaxel: severe mucocutaneous toxicity in a patient with hyperbilirubinemia." South Med J 89 (1996): 542-5

7. Raghavan VT, Bloomer WD, Merkel DE "Taxol and radiation recall dermatitis." Lancet 341 (1993): 1354

8. Herrigton JD, Figueroa JA "Severe necrosis due to paclitaxel estravasation." Pharmacotherapy 17 (1997): 163-5

9. Kawakami T, Tsutsumi Y, Soma Y "Limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis induced by paclitaxel in a patient with breast cancer." Arch Dermatol 145 (2009): 97-8

10. Dasanu CA, Alexandrescu DT "Systemic lupus erythematosus associated with paclitaxel use in the treatment of ovarian cancer." South Med J 101 (2008): 1161-2

11. Lauchli S, Trueb RM, Fehr M, Hafner J "Scleroderma-like drug reaction to paclitaxel (Taxol(R))." Br J Dermatol 147 (2002): 619-20

12. Basler GA "Paclitaxel-induced "recall" soft tissue injury." J Clin Oncol 13 (1995): 531

13. "Multum Information Services, Inc. Expert Review Panel"

14. Rowinsky EK, Eisenhauer EA, Chaudhry V, Arbuck SG, Donehower RC "Clinical toxicities encountered with paclitaxel (Taxol)." Semin Oncol 20(4 Suppl) (1993): 1-15

15. Sevelda P, Mayerhofer K, Obermair A, Stolzlechner J, Kurz C "Thrombosis with paclitaxel." Lancet 343 (1994): 727

16. Hekmat E "Fatal myocardial infarction potentially induced by paclitaxel." Ann Pharmacother 30 (1996): 1110-2

It is possible that some side effects of Taxol may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

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. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. 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 substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.