About This Drug
Paclitaxel is a drug used to treat cancer. This drug is given in the vein (IV).
Possible Side Effects
- Hair loss
Hair loss is often temporary, although with certain medicine, hair loss can sometimes be permanent. Hair loss may happen suddenly or gradually. If you lose hair, you may lose it from your head, face, armpits, pubic area, chest, and/or legs. You may also notice your hair getting thin.
- Abnormal heart beat
- Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
- Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
- Dehydration (lack of water in the body from losing too much fluid)
- Decreased appetite
- Changes in your liver function. Your doctor will check your liver function as needed
- Joint, bone and muscle pain
- Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
- Effects on the nerves are called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and feet. It may be hard for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk as usual. The effect on the nerves may get worse with more doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it does not get better in all people.
- Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 20% or greater of patients treated with nab-paclitaxel. Not all possible side effects are included above.
Warnings and Precautions
- Inflammation (swelling) of the lungs. You may have a dry cough or trouble breathing.
- Severe infection
- Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis are rare but may happen in some patients. Signs of allergic reaction to this drug may be swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way. If this happens, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.
- This drug contains albumin, which is a protein from donated human blood. There is a rare risk of transmission of viral diseases.
- This drug may be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, urine, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions. Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.
Treating Side Effects
- Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day. Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
- To help with hair loss, wash hair with a mild shampoo and avoid washing your hair every day.
- Avoid rubbing your scalp, pat your hair or scalp dry.
- Avoid coloring your hair.
- Limit your use of hair spray, electric curlers, blow dryers, and curling irons.
- If you are interested in getting a wig, talk to your nurse. You can also call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “Look Good, Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women getting chemotherapy can learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.
- Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
- To help with decreased appetite, eat small, frequent meals.
- Eat high caloric food such as pudding, ice cream, yogurt and milkshakes.
- If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
- To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
- If you get diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods that are high in protein and calories and avoid foods that can irritate your digestive tracts or lead to cramping.
- Ask your nurse or doctor about medicine that can lessen or stop your diarrhea.
- Keeping your pain under control is important to your well-being. Please tell your doctor or nurse if you are experiencing pain.
- If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
- If you have numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.
- To decrease your risk of infection, wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infections.
- To decrease your risk of bleeding, use a soft toothbrush. Check with your nurse before using dental floss.
- Be very careful when using knives or tools.
- Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
Food and Drug Interactions
- There are no known interactions of paclitaxel of with food.
- This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might 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 help.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:
- Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Pain in your chest
- Dry cough
- New rash and/or itching
- Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
- Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
- Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or that isn’t relieved by prescribed medicines
- Throwing up more than 3 times a day
- Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
- Pain that does not go away or is not relieved by prescribed medicine
- Numbness, tingling, or pain your hands and feet
- Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
- Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin
- Signs of allergic reaction: swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way
- If you think you are pregnant or have impregnated your partner
- Pregnancy warning: This drug can have harmful effects on the unborn child, it is recommended that effective methods of birth control should be used by both men and women during your cancer treatment.
- Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
- Fertility Warning: In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children in the future. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
New: June 2017