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Paclitaxel Injection

(pak'' li tax' el)

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IMPORTANT WARNING:   Return to top

Paclitaxel injection must be given in a hospital or medical facility under the supervision of a doctor who is experienced in giving chemotherapy medications for cancer.

Paclitaxel may cause a large decrease in the number of white blood cells (a type of blood cell that is needed to fight infection) in your blood. This increases the risk that you will develop a serious infection. You should not receive paclitaxel if you already have a low number of white blood cells. Your doctor will order laboratory tests before and during your treatment to check the number of white blood cells in your blood. Your doctor will delay or interrupt your treatment if the number of white blood cells is too low. Call your doctor immediately if you develop a temperature greater than 100.4º F, a sore throat, cough, chills, or other signs of infection during your treatment with paclitaxel.

Paclitaxel is manufactured with additional ingredients to allow the medication to reach parts of the body where it is needed. One form of paclitaxel (Abraxane) is manufactured with human albumin, and the other form of paclitaxel (Taxol) is manufactured with a solvent called Cremophor EL (polyoxyethylated castor oil). There are important differences between the two forms of paclitaxel, so these products should not be substituted for each other.

If you are using the form of paclitaxel that is manufactured with Cremophor EL, you may experience a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. You will receive certain medications to help prevent an allergic reaction before you receive each dose of paclitaxel. Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction: rash; hives; itching; swelling of the eyes, face, throat, lips, tongue, hands, arms, feet, or ankles; difficulty breathing or swallowing; dizziness; or fainting.

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain tests to check your body's response to paclitaxel.

Talk to your doctor about the risks of using paclitaxel.

Why is this medication prescribed?   Return to top

Paclitaxel manufactured with human albumin is used to treat breast cancer that has not improved or that has come back after treatment with other medications. Paclitaxel manufactured with Cremophor EL is used to treat ovarian cancer (cancer that begins in the female reproductive organs where eggs are formed), breast cancer, and lung cancer. Paclitaxel with Cremophor EL is also used to treat Kaposi's sarcoma (a type of cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin) in people who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Paclitaxel is in a class of medications called antimicrotubule agents. It works by stopping the growth and spread of cancer cells.

How should this medicine be used?   Return to top

Paclitaxel comes as a liquid to be given intravenously (into a vein) by a doctor or nurse in a hospital or clinic. It is usually given once every 3 weeks. When paclitaxel manufactured with Cremophor EL is used to treat Kaposi's sarcoma, it may be given once every 2 or 3 weeks.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.

Other uses for this medicine   Return to top

Paclitaxel is also sometimes used to treat cancer of the head and neck, esophagus (tube that connects the mouth and stomach), bladder, endometrium (lining of the uterus), and cervix (opening of the uterus). Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?   Return to top

Before using paclitaxel,

What special dietary instructions should I follow?   Return to top

Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while using this medicine.

What should I do if I forget a dose?   Return to top

Call your doctor right away if you are unable to keep an appointment to receive a dose of paclitaxel.

What side effects can this medication cause?   Return to top

Paclitaxel may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:

Paclitaxel may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

In case of emergency/overdose   Return to top

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

What other information should I know?   Return to top

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names   Return to top

  • Abraxane®
  • Taxol®

Last Revised - 08/01/2008

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. Disclaimer

AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2008. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.