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Taxol

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

Medically reviewed on Aug 15, 2018

What is Taxol?

See also: Kisqali

Taxol (paclitaxel) is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

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

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.

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

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).

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

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 paclitaxel. 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 taking this medicine

You should not receive Taxol 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 Taxol is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

Do not receive Taxol 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 this medicine.

How is Taxol given?

Taxol 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.

Taxol 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 this medicine.

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

Taxol 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 Taxol 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 Taxol?

Drinking alcohol can increase certain side effects of Taxol.

Paclitaxel can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). 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. Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's 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.

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 Taxol. 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.

Taxol side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Taxol: 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 Taxol side effects may include:

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.

What other drugs will affect Taxol?

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 Taxol, especially:

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.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Taxol only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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