26th September 2021 by Jack Allan Education
We are looking at different types of chemotherapy - how you take it and possible side-effects - and then hearing from a patient about their experience. This week it’s Paclitaxel.
Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug used to treat different cancers, including breast, ovarian, non-small cell lung cancers and stomach cancer. It is also known under the brand name Taxol.
Paclitaxel works by stopping cancer cells from separating into two new cells. This blocks the growth of the cancer.
Paclitaxel is given intravenously into the vein in hospital as a drip into the hand or arm.
Treatment may be every 2-3 week and it takes around 3 hours. It is sometimes given once a week and the treatment takes over an hour.
The dose you receive will be worked out using your height and weight and the number of cycles will vary depending on the individual.
It can be given alone or in combination with other cancer drugs.
Side effects can be an increased risk of infection due to a drop in white blood cells and it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible if you suspect an infection. Irritation may occur where the intravenous drip is inserted and you may also suffer hair loss but it will usually grow back once treatment is finished.
A side effect can be low blood pressure which might make you feel dizzy or light headed. You might feel some pain from your muscles and joints and a numbness and a tingling in hands and feet.
Other side effects can be diarrhoea, breathlessness and looking pale caused by anaemia, a sore mouth, bruising and bleeding.
The chemotherapy may also make you feel sick. Anti-sickness drugs will be prescribed to help prevent or control sickness during treatment.
If your side effects are severe or getting worse you should always speak to your medical team.