Paclitaxel is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy drug. Paclitaxel is classified as a "plant alkaloid," a "taxane" and an "antimicrotubule agent." (For more detail, see "How Paclitaxel Works" section below).
What Paclitaxel Is Used For:
- Paclitaxel is used for the treatment of breast, ovarian, lung, bladder, prostate, melanoma, esophageal, as well as other types of solid tumor cancers. It has also been used in Kaposi's sarcoma.
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians sometimes elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it might be helpful.
How Paclitaxel Is Given:
- Paclitaxel is given as an injection or infusion into the vein (intravenous, IV).
- Paclitaxel is an irritant. An irritant is a chemical that can cause inflammation of the vein through which it is given. If the medication escapes from the vein it can cause tissue damage. The nurse or doctor who gives Paclitaxel must be carefully trained. If you experience pain or notice redness or swelling at the IV site while you are receiving Paclitaxel, alert your health care professional immediately.
- Because severe allergic reactions have occurred in some people taking Paclitaxel, you will be asked to take medications to help prevent a reaction. Your doctor will prescribe the exact regimen.
- Paclitaxel is given over various amounts of times and in various schedules.
- There is no pill form of Paclitaxel.
- The amount of Paclitaxel and the schedule that it is given will receive depend on many factors, including your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being treated. Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.
Side Effects of Paclitaxel:
Important things to remember about the side effects of Paclitaxel include:
- Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
- Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
- Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.
- There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.
- The side effects of Paclitaxel and their severity vary depending on how much of the drug is given, and/or the schedule in which it is given.p