Docetaxel is an anti-cancer (“antineoplastic” or “cytotoxic”) chemotherapy drug. This medication is classified as a “plant alkaloid,” a “taxane” and an “antimicrotubule agent.” (For more detail, see “How this drug works” section below)
What Docetaxel Is Used For:
- Approved in treatment of breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, advanced stomach cancer, head and neck cancer and metastatic prostate cancer.
- Also being investigated to treat small cell lung, ovarian, bladder, and pancreatic cancers, soft tissue sarcoma and melanoma.
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Docetaxel Is Given:
- Docetaxel is given through a vein (intravenously, IV)
- There is no pill form of docetaxel
- Premedication with a corticosteroid pill starting a day prior to docetaxel infusion for 3 days is given to reduce the severity of fluid retention and allergic reactions. Your doctor will prescribe the exact regimen.
- The amount of docetaxel that you will receive depends on many factors, including your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being treated. Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.
Important things to remember about the side effects of docetaxel:
- Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed
- Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration
- Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete
- There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.
- The side effects of docetaxel and their severity depend on how much of the drug is given. In other words, high doses may produce more severe side effects).
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking docetaxel:
- Low white blood cell count. (This can increase your risk for infection)
- Low red blood cell count (anemia)