Quick guide to Taxotere

Brand Name(s): Taxotere

Generic Name Docetaxel

What is docetaxel injection?

DOCETAXEL (Taxotere®) is a chemotherapy agent used to treat breast, head and neck, lung, ovarian, prostate, and many other types of cancer. Docetaxel is made from the needles of certain kinds of yew trees. Docetaxel interferes with the growth of rapidly dividing cells, like cancer cells, and eventually causes these cells to die. Docetaxel may be used alone or with other chemotherapy agents or radiation therapy. Generic docetaxel injection is not yet available.

What should my health care professional know before I receive docetaxel?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • swelling around the ankles
  • any bacterial, viral or fungal infection
  • liver disease
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to docetaxel, other chemotherapy agents, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Docetaxel is for infusion into a vein. It is usually administered in a hospital or clinic setting by a specially trained health care professional. You will be given an infusion once every 3—4 weeks depending upon your laboratory results. As part of your treatment you will be given another medicine, dexamethasone, to take to help decrease the side effects of your treatment. It is important to take this medicine exactly as instructed. If you forget to take a dose or do not take it on schedule, tell your prescriber or health care professional before you receive your next dose of docetaxel.

Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss your dose. Let your prescriber or health care professional know if you are unable to keep an appointment.

What drug(s) may interact with docetaxel?

  • bosentan
  • certain types of medicines for fungal infections (itraconazole, ketoconazole)
  • erythromycin or clarithromycin
  • fluoxetine
  • other chemotherapy agents may increase the side effects seen with docetaxel
  • rifampin, rifabutin, or rifapentine
  • some medicines for seizures (carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone)
  • vaccines

Talk to your prescriber or health care professional before taking any of these medicines:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • ketoprofen

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including nonprescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from receiving docetaxel?

The side effects you may experience with docetaxel therapy depend upon the dose, other types of chemotherapy or radiation therapy given, and the disease being treated. Not all of these effects occur in all patients. Discuss any concerns or questions with your prescriber or health care professional.

Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • low blood counts - docetaxel may decrease the number of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. You may be at increased risk for infections and bleeding.
  • signs of infection - fever or chills, sore throat
  • signs of decreased platelets - bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • signs of decreased red blood cells - unusual weakness or tiredness
  • difficulty breathing, wheezing
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • leg, ankle or arm swelling
  • mouth sores or ulcers
  • pain, swelling, redness, or irritation at the injection site
  • redness, blistering, peeling skin, skin rash, itching
  • stomach pain, swelling
  • tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in the hands or feet
  • vomiting

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • complete hair loss including hair on your head, underarms, pubic hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes
  • flushing
  • diarrhea
  • excessive tearing
  • fatigue
  • changes in the color of fingernails
  • loosening of the fingernails
  • nausea
  • muscle pain
  • bone pain

What should I watch for while taking docetaxel?

Visit your prescriber or health care professional at regular intervals to check on your progress. You will need to have regular blood checks after receiving docetaxel.

During the first or second infusion of docetaxel you may have a increased chance of an allergic reaction. It is important to take the dexamethasone to decrease the chance of this happening. Tell your nurse or health care professional if you begin to have a hard time breathing or develop a rash and itching during your infusion of docetaxel.

Docetaxel may make you feel generally unwell. This is not uncommon because docetaxel affects good cells as well as cancer cells. Report any side effects as above, but continue your course of medicine even though you feel ill, unless your prescriber or health care professional tells you to stop.

Docetaxel will decrease your body's ability to fight infections. Call your prescriber or health care professional if you have a fever, chills, sore throat or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat these symptoms yourself. Try to avoid being around people who are sick. Docetaxel may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your prescriber or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding. Be careful not to cut, bruise or injure yourself because you may get an infection and bleed more than usual.

Avoid taking aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), or ketoprofen (Orudis® KT) products as these may mask a fever, unless instructed to by your prescriber or health care professional.

Docetaxel may cause you to retain water. This is most common in the lower legs, ankles, and in the arm on the side of your mastectomy. This may get worse as you receive more doses of docetaxel. Call your prescriber or health care professional if you notice any unusual swelling or shortness of breath. Make sure to take the dexamethasone tablets to help prevent this side effect.

Be careful brushing and flossing your teeth or using a toothpick while receiving docetaxel because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are received docetaxel.

If you are going to have surgery, tell your prescriber or health care professional that you are receiving docetaxel.

Where can I keep my medicine?

This medicine is given in a hospital or clinic. You will not have to take this medicine at home.

(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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