Paclitaxel Protein-Bound (Intravenous)

Metastatic breast cancer, non-small cell lung, and pancreas cancer can be slowed with the use of paclitaxel in combination with other cancer-fighting drugs in patients who are not able to receive radiation or are not good candidates for surgery.

Overview

The metastatic cancer-fighting drug paclitaxel is a protein-bound drug that is injected by your doctor, typically in combination with other cancer-fighting drugs. Primarily used in patients that are suffering from breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, or non-small cell lung cancer and are unable to undergo surgery or receive radiation, this drug is used in combination with gemcitabine and carboplatin depending on the type of cancer that is being treated.

This injection can slow the production of cancer cells but will also affect healthy cells and may deter their production.

This antineoplastic drug is given via injection which is typically performed by your doctor or another healthcare provider at a cancer treatment center or another clinic-like setting and is never self-administered or stored at the patient's home.

Paclitaxel has been reported to cause an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis in some cases. This reaction can be serious and even fatal in some circumstances; patients and their caregivers should familiarize themselves with the signs of this reaction and seek immediate emergency medical care should they occur.

Paclitaxel is not appropriate for use in pregnant women. Both men and women who are being treated with this drug are advised to practice effective contraceptive methods in order to avoid pregnancy while being administered paclitaxel. Notify your doctor immediately if you become pregnant or impregnate someone while taking this medication.

This medication is made using donated blood. Prior to using blood for this purpose, both the donor and the blood are screened for the presence of any virus or other medical ailments. Discuss any concerns that you may have regarding this facet of the drug with your medical team prior to beginning your course of treatment. While the process is considered safe, there have been incidences where viruses have been passed on to the recipient.

Patients are advised to take caution while being treated with this medication because it can lower both their white blood cell count as well as the number of platelets present in their bloodstream. The risk for infection as well as concerns over bleeding should be discussed with your doctor along with effective preventative measures that the patient can implement.

This medication is available in the following dosage delivery method:

  • Powder for suspension

Conditions Treated

  • Metastatic breast cancer
  • Metastatic pancreatic cancer
  • Metastatic non-small cell lung cancer

Type Of Medicine

  • Antineoplastic agent
  • Mitotic inhibitor

Side Effects

Similar to many other prescription and non-prescription medications, this drug can cause unwanted side effects. Some symptoms may require further medical attention while others will likely dissipate on their own.

Contact your doctor for further medical attention should you experience any of the side effects listed below as they may be a sign of a more serious problem:

More likely:

  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Troubled breathing with exertion
  • Chills
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain on the side of the body
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Difficult urination
  • Sore mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Loss of taste
  • Tingling of the hands or feet
  • Coughing
  • Ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Bloating or swelling of the face, or extremities
  • Unexplained tiredness or weakness
  • Pale skin

Less likely:

  • Anxiety
  • Swelling of the face, throat, or tongue
  • Blood in the urine or stools
  • Sudden, unexplained shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Sudden loss of coordination
  • Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • General feeling of discomfort or illness
  • Severe, sudden headache
  • Inability to speak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Red spots on the skin
  • Trouble thinking or walking
  • Sensation of pins and needles
  • Pain in the chest, groin, or legs
  • Skin itching, rash, or redness
  • Inability to move the extremities or face
  • Stabbing pain
  • Fast, pounding, slow, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • Sudden, severe weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Difficulty or problems swallowing
  • Sweating
  • Burning, tingling, numbness or pain in extremities
  • Thickening of bronchial secretions
  • Bleeding

As your system adjusts to the medication you may experience one or more of the following symptoms that should go away on their own after a few days. If any of the side effects linger for more than a few days or become worse, it is advisable to check with your doctor as further medical attention may be necessary.

More likely:

  • Cracked lips
  • Nausea
  • Swelling
  • Pain in the joints
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain or stiffness
  • Loss of hair
  • Lack of, or loss of strength
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty with moving

Less likely:

  • Bleeding
  • Tenderness
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Scarring
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Inflammation
  • Itching
  • Warmth at the injection site
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Lumps
  • Redness
  • Infection
  • Soreness
  • A feeling of pressure
  • Swelling
  • Coldness
  • Tingling
  • Ulceration at the injection site
  • Blistering

Rare likelihood:

  • Changes in the appearance of your nails

If you have a significant reaction or experience other side effects that are not listed here, it is always best practice to check with your doctor if they last longer than a few days, become worse or give you a feeling of concern.

Dosage

This medication is never self-administered and the dosage will be determined by your physician and administered at a cancer treatment center or another clinic-like setting. This medication is injected into the patient's vein which may cause some discomfort and irritation at the site of the injection.

Major Drug Interactions

There are certain drugs that are contraindicated for use with this drug and there are others that are not advised for use in combination with paclitaxel. Your doctor may believe that paclitaxel is still the best option for your treatment and may choose to make changes to the other drugs and medications that you are taking or alter the way in which you take them.

If you receive one of the following vaccines your doctor may opt for a different medication rather than paclitaxel. These vaccines can interfere or complicate the use paclitaxel for your treatment.

Patients who are taking one of the following medications or receiving these vaccines may have their paclitaxel administered in a different amount or frequency; be sure to notify your doctor of any reactions or severe side effects that you experience while you are undergoing treatment with paclitaxel and have received one of these vaccines or medications recently:

  • Adenovirus Vaccine
  • Poliovirus Vaccine
  • Tretinoin
  • Cholera Vaccine
  • Smallpox Vaccine
  • Influenza Virus Vaccine
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine
  • Testosterone
  • Ethinyl Estradiol
  • Typhoid Vaccine
  • Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin Vaccine

If you suffer from any of the following medical conditions be sure that you discuss with your doctor how taking paclitaxel can affect them. If you experience any complications when taking this medication and are being treated for one of these conditions, notify your doctor right away:

Warnings

While you are taking this medication your doctor will likely order some diagnostic testing to monitor its effectiveness and to manage any unwanted side effects. It is important that patients keep all follow-up appointments and undergo all testing as scheduled.

Paclitaxel can cause harm to developing fetuses and should not be taken by pregnant women. If you are of childbearing age and are taking this medication be sure to utilize an effective birth control medicine. If you become pregnant while being treated with paclitaxel be sure to notify your doctor immediately.

It is important that men who are being treated with this drug do not impregnate anyone as the presence of paclitaxel in their system can cause harm to the fetus. Be sure to practice effective contraceptive measures while you are being treated with this medication.

Paclitaxel has been reported to cause severe allergic reactions in patients including a serious condition known as anaphylaxis. This reaction can be quite harmful and even fatal in some cases. Patients who are receiving treatment with this drug need to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and seek immediate emergency help should they occur:

  • Rash
  • Swelling of your hands
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling in your mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Facial swelling
  • Itchiness

While you are taking paclitaxel the white blood cells present in your bloodstream will likely be lower, a situation that can increase the likelihood of contracting an infection. Along with this decrease in white blood cells, the number of platelets in your bloodstream may also temporarily decrease. The lower level of platelets will make it more difficult for your blood to clot should you receive a cut or other injury. Due to these two potentially dangerous factors, it is advised that patients who are taking paclitaxel take care to avoid the chance of infection and do what they can to prevent any bleeding.

When taking this medication it is advisable to avoid any interaction with people who are currently ill or have an infection of any kind. If you begin to experience symptoms of infection it is important to contact your doctor right away for further medical advice and instruction. Be aware of the signs of infection:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Lower back pain
  • Side pain
  • Painful or difficult urination

If you experience any of the symptoms that are listed below it is important to notify your doctor right away:

  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Stools that are black in color
  • Blood in your urine or stools
  • Red spots on the skin

Typical dental care can cause bleeding that can be dangerous in people with a lower than typical platelet level. Discuss other options with your dentist, doctor, nurse or another member of your medical team that are safer and less likely to cause bleeding. Do not have any dental work performed without first checking with your doctor.

In order to avoid the risk of infection, it is advised that patients not touch their eyes or the inside of their mouth or nose without first thoroughly washing their hands with soap and water.

When using sharp objects like nail clippers and razors, be sure to take extra caution in order to avoid any accidental cuts or knicks. It is advised that all contact sports be avoided as well as any situations that could cause bruising or another injury.

Patients should be aware that this drug is created with human blood that has been donated for such purposes. These donations are carefully screened and tested for medical ailments, viruses, and diseases. If the use of this donated blood gives you cause for concern, discuss your hesitation with your physician prior to beginning your course of treatment.

Any signs of numbness in the extremities, or tingling, burning, or other painful sensations can be a sign of sensory neuropathy and should be reported to your medical team right away.

If the cancer for which you are being treated also requires the use of gemcitabine you may also experience respiratory problems. It is important to notify your doctor right away if you experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A dry and persistent cough

Patients should notify their doctors of all medications that they are taking prior to beginning their course of treatment with paclitaxel and also let them know of any changes that occur with their medications and how they take them that may arise while they are being treated with this drug. This includes both prescription and non-prescription drugs, herbal remedies, and all vitamin and mineral supplements.

Storage

Due to the fact that this medication is administered at your doctor's office or in a treatment center or clinic-like setting, there is no cause for it to be stored in the patient's home.

Summary

The metastatic cancer-fighting drug paclitaxel is a protein-bound drug that is injected by your doctor, typically in combination with other cancer-fighting drugs. Primarily used in patients that are suffering from breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, or non-small cell lung cancer and are unable to undergo surgery or receive radiation, this drug is used in combination with gemcitabine and carboplatin depending on the type of cancer that is being treated.

This antineoplastic drug is given via injection which is typically performed by your doctor or another healthcare provider at a cancer treatment center or another clinic-like setting. Due to the decrease in both white blood cells and platelet count that can occur with the use of this drug, patients are advised to limit their exposure to people who have infections and to also avoid activities that could potentially cause bleeding or bruising.

Patients should stay in close communication with their medical team while undergoing treatment with paclitaxel for metastatic cancers as complications can arise that require medical attention right away.