Taxotere (docetaxel) is a chemotherapy drug, used to treat cancer. It is one of the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer, and it is also used for other types of cancer. Like other chemotherapy drugs, Taxotere can cause severe side effects, including vomiting, joint or muscle pain, and compromised immune system. The side effects are usually, but not always, temporary. Taxotere causes permanent hair loss in some patients.
What is Taxotere?
Taxotere is an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug, also referred to as an antineoplastic or cytotoxic chemotherapy drug. It is in a class of drugs, called taxanes, which interfere with the ability of cancer cells to divide. Taxanes are plant alkaloids made from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree (taxus).
Taxotere has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat:
- Breast cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Advanced stomach cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Metastatic prostate cancer
It is being investigated to treat:
- Small cell lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Soft tissue sarcoma
Taxotere is often given in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.
Taxotere Side Effects
According to Chemocare, the most common side effects of Taxotere, affecting more than 30% of patients, include:
- Low white blood cell count, which increases risk of infection
- Anemia – low red blood cell count
- Fluid retention with weight gain, swelling of the ankles or abdominal area.
- Peripheral neuropathy (numbness in your fingers and toes) may occur with repeated doses. This should be reported to your healthcare provider.
- Mouth sores
- Hair loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nail changes (color changes to your fingernails or toenails may occur while taking Taxotere. In extreme, but rare, cases nails may fall off. After you have finished Taxotere treatments, your nails will generally grow back.)
Also according to Chemocare, about 10% to 29% of people using Taxotere experience:
- Muscle pain
- Bone pain
- Joint pain
- Low platelet count, which increases risk of bleeding
- Elevated levels on liver tests
Taxotere can also cause:
- Taste changes
- Watery eyes
- Allergic reactions
- Irregular periods in women, sometimes including permanent cessation of periods
Dangerous Adverse Events
The most dangerous potential side effects of Taxotere include:
- Toxic deaths
- Hypersensitivity reactions
- Fluid retention
These reactions are rare and are most likely in certain patients including those with abnormal liver function.
Taxotere and Permanent Hair Loss
Temporary hair loss is a very common side effect of chemotherapy. However, studies have found a six to 10% chance of permanent hair loss with Taxotere. Permanent hair loss, especially when unexpected and unexplained, can have a devastating emotional effect on cancer survivors.
If you have questions about Taxotere that are not answered here or believe your permanent hair loss was caused by Taxotere, please email us or call us toll-free at 800-DRUG-411 (800-378-4411). We will help you find answers to your questions and we can refer you to an attorney who represents Taxotere victims.