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IDENTIFICATION: Docetaxel (Taxotere)
This drug has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the treatment of anthracycline-resistant (cancer cells which no longer respond to drugs such as doxorubicin) metastatic breast cancer.
Doses: 100 mg./M2
Route: Given intravenously (IV)
Duration and timing: Given once every 3 weeks
Treatments are generally continued as long as the drug keeps the breast cancer from growing unless there are unacceptable side effects.
Possible Side effects:
  • Hematopoetic: Decrease in white cells (neutropenia), which maybe treated with Neupogen, a drug which stimulates the growth of white blood cells; a decrease in red cells (anemia) and/ or platelets (thrombocytopenia) may take place as well
  • Gastrointestinal: mouth sores; nausea and vomiting occur rarely (may be decreased or prevented with medications); diarrhea; constipation; decreased appetite; taste changes; abnormalities in liver function tests
  • Integmentary: hair loss (usually complete); rash; red discoloration of the skin (erythema) followed by peeling (desquamation), most common on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands; changes in nail color or texture, sometimes resulting in nail pain or loss.
  • Fertility: effect on fertility is unknown; this drug should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Cardiovascular: edema (swelling or fluid retention) in the feet and ankles or elsewhere, including the areas surrounding the lungs (pleural effusion), heart (pericardial effusion) and abdomen; irregular heart beat; irritation to the vein where the drug is given (phlebitis);
  • Respiratory: shortness of breath; cough
  • Neurological: tingling and/or burning sensations in hands and/or feet (peripheral neuropathy); generalized weakness; headache; confusion; drowsiness
  • Allergic (hypersensitivity reactions): which may cause: flushing, rash, chest pain or heaviness, back pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, fever, shaking, chills, low blood pressure (these symptoms can usually be prevented by medications which are taken prior to the docetaxel)
  • Other: fatigue; muscle aches (myalgia); eye inflammation (conjunctivitis); hearing abnormalities

SPECIAL NOTE- If docetaxel is given to patients with abnormal liver function it is much more likely to cause severe and life threatening side effects.

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