Paclitaxel Protein-Bound Particles for Injectable Suspension (Generic Name)

Other Names: Abraxane

About this Drug

Paclitaxel Protein-Bound Particles is used to treat cancer. It is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Complete hair loss: This almost always occurs and usually involves loss of scalp hair, eyebrows, eye lashes, and pubic hair. It can occur suddenly after treatment has begun but it usually happens 14-21 days after treatment. Hair generally grows back after you’ve finished treatment with this drug.
  • Bone marrow depression; This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It may increase your risk for infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Effects on the nerves called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness or tingling in your hands and feet. It may be difficult for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk normally. The effect on the nerves may get worse with additional doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it may not get better in some people.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye irritation or blurry vision
  • Edema which is swelling, most often in your arms, hands, legs or feet
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Changes in liver enzymes; Blood tests will be used to check your liver enzymes as needed.
  • Changes in kidney function; This drug may affect how your kidneys work. Your kidney function will be checked as needed.

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • During the IV infusion, if  you experience pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion,  please tell your nurse immediately.
  • Blood pressure and pulse rate drop  
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue
  • Soreness of the lips, mouth, and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that are painful
  • Lowered pulse during the time you receive this drug. This is usually not noticed and requires no special precautions. Your pulse will be checked while you receive the drug.
  • Nail problems: discoloration, thinning, brittleness, or loss of the nail

Sexual Problems and Reproductive Concerns

In men and women both, this drug may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are taking this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period. Women may experience signs of menopause like vaginal dryness or itching.

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
  • Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking. 
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effect of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.  
  • Breast feeding warning:  It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.
  • Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations. 

Treating Side Effects

  • Speak with your nurse about obtaining a wig before you lose your hair. Also, call the American Cancer Society at  800-ACS-2345 for information about the “Look Good...Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program in which women undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans, and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of gently brushing with a very soft tooth brush and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bed time. Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • If your blood pressure drops, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded when you first stand up from a sitting or lying position. Get up slowly and be careful.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of paclitaxel protein-bound particles with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor’s advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Notify your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38.0 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking 
  • Vomiting more than twice in one day
  • Diarrhea of four stools in a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Pain, redness, swelling, or blisters at the IV site


Notify your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Signs of peripheral neuropathy: numbness, tingling, or decreased sensation in fingers or toes; difficulty walking or changes in the way you walk; or clumsiness in buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine activities
  • Eye irritation or blurry vision
  • Swelling of your hands, feet, or legs
  • Joint or muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that is unrelieved by prescribed medications
  • Painful mouth or throat, if you are unable to eat or drink
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness that interferes with daily activities

Revised January 2011

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