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Paclitaxel (Taxol, Onxal)   

Warning: Paclitaxel will sometimes lead to serious blood problems, reducing the number of white blood cells in the body. This can manifest by a marked increase in infections. If any symptoms such as a fever or chills, sore throat or painful cough, or trouble urinating occur, immediately consult with your doctor. If you have a history of medical conditions that include blood disorders or a low white blood cell count, confer with your doctor and pharmacist before beginning to use this medication. Signs of dropping blood cell counts might include tiredness, unusual bruising, or a tendency to bleed easily.

 

This medication is known to cause birth defects and should not be taken if you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or desire to father a child. This medication can cause a rare but severe allergic reaction. These symptoms may include hives, a painful rash, uncomfortable itching, swelling in the face, sensations of dizziness, possible difficulties in breathing and chest discomfort. It will be important to have blood cell count, heart rate and blood pressure measured regularly during the use of this medication.

 

Indications: This medication belongs to a type of medicine known as antineoplastics, which inhibit the reproduction and proliferation of cancer cells. This medication is also known as Taxol, Onxol, Paxene, and Abraxene. Paclitaxel is used in the treatment of many forms of cancer, has been approved for use in the treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma, and as an antitumor medication. Some of the specific cancers this medication is used for are cancers in the breast, ovaries or cervix. This medication is used to treat testicular cancer, bladder cancer and certain types of lung cancer. 

Other cancers that  Paclitaxel is used to treat include:  

 

  • bladder cancer 
  • Prostate cancer
  • head and neck cancer 
  • lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer 
  • melanoma (dangerous form of skin cancer) 
  • Esophageal cancer (Cancer of the Esophagus).  

Dosage: This is a liquid medication that is administered intravenously. A qualified medical or health professional must administer the medicine. The precise dosage and schedule for taking the drug will be prescribed by the oncologist and determined by the amount of cancer and damage done, the effectiveness of the treatment and your body size.

Overdose: Paclitaxel overdose may cause a decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow, and lead to severe health problems and even death. Keep all appointments with your doctor before, during, and after treatment with paclitaxel; regular checkups can help detect abnormalities in early stage before they become serious health problems.  

Contraindications: Paclitaxel should not be taken while breastfeeding because of possible harmful effects to the infant. Be cautious when taking alcohol and when performing tasks that require alertness and concentration as this medication can cause drowsiness. The use of this medication in children or the elderly should be monitored carefully and prescribed with caution.

Paclitaxel or is not recommended under the following conditions:

  • pregnancy
  • allergy to paclitaxel or one of its components
  • Allergy to polyethoxylated castor oil.

Interactions: As with all medications, paclitaxel may interfere with the effectiveness of other medications and may be affected by the other medications. Be sure to communicate to your pharmacist and doctor all of the prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking. If you are using any herbal remedies, share this information with your doctor and pharmacist as well.

Some medicines may interact with Paclitaxel and causes health problems. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications:    

  • cyclosporine
  • dexamethasone
  • diltiazem
  • estrogens
  • ketoconazole
  • montelukast
  • quercetin
  • quinidine
  • retinoic acid
  • testosterone
  • verapamil
  • Protease inhibitors

Side effects: In addition to attacking cancer cells, Paclitaxel may interfere with certain normal cells, causing a number of side effects in most patients:

  • hair loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • taste change
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • nail or/and skin discoloration
  • tingling in the hands or toes
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • sleep disorders
  • Mouth blistering 

See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • dizziness 
  • shortness of breath
  • severe exhaustion
  • facial flushing
  • chest pain
  • persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Infection/allergy signs: skin rash, fever, chills, cough, sore throat, etc.
  • Difficulty swallowing.