What is paclitaxel?

Paclitaxel is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

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

Paclitaxel may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Precautions

You should not be given this medication if you are allergic to paclitaxel, or to other medications that contain an ingredient called Cremophor EL (polyoxyethylated castor oil). This includes cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune) and teniposide (Vumon).

Before you receive paclitaxel, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • heart disease; or
  • a severely weak immune system.

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely receive paclitaxel.

FDA pregnancy category D. This medication can cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not receive paclitaxel 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.

It is not known whether paclitaxel passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not receive this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while you are being treated with paclitaxel.

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

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Instructions

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have received too much of this medicine.

Overdose symptoms may include numbness or tingling, fever, chills, mouth sores, unusual bleeding or weakness, or any signs of infection.

Contact your doctor if you miss an appointment for your paclitaxel injection.

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Side Effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • slow heart rate;
  • seizure (black-out or convulsions);
  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
  • numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands or feet;
  • increased blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats); or
  • warmth or redness under your skin.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • pain, swelling, redness, or skin color changes where the medicine was injected;
  • joint or muscle pain;
  • mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; or
  • hair loss.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Interactions

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.

Other Names

Onxol, Taxol, and paclitaxel

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Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. 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 drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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