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Paclitaxel

Uses

This anti-cancer drug is used to treat advanced ovarian cancer, metastatic breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma.

This drug can also be used off-label for the treatment of head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, small-cell lung cancer, cervix cancer, and uterine lining cancer.

Drug class: Antineoplastic drug; plant alkaloid; microtubule-targeting agent (taxanes)

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Route of administration: Intravenous

Is it a drug that needs a prescription? YES

Is it an OTC drug? NO

Mechanism of action

Paclitaxel works by targeting microtubules and blocking microtubule dissociation, hence suppressing mitosis (cell division). This inhibits malignant cells from growing.

Side effects

Common side effects may include nausea, vomiting, sore mouth, diarrhea, muscle or joint pain, tingling in the hands and feet, flushing, dizziness, swelling/pain/redness at the injection site, hair loss temporarily.

Serious side effects

Yellowing of skin/eyes, shortness of breath, abnormally fast heart rate, pain in chest, unusual fatigue, severe headache, weakness, easy bleeding or bruising, fainting.

 Precautions

Take the following precautions before using this drug and notify your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to it or to other taxanes (including docetaxel, oraxol, abraxane) or any other medications, or if you are allergic to polyoxyethylated castor oil (inactive ingredient of paclitaxel),
  • If you are taking any other medications (prescribed, non-prescribed, or herbal products),
  • If you have a history of abnormally fast or slow heart rate, low count of WBCs, inadequate bone marrow function, hepatic disease, high or low blood pressure,
  • If you have had any recent surgery,
  • Limit alcohol consumption, as it makes you drowsy.
  • Avoid contact with people who have infections to prevent the spread of infections.
  • It may affect the sperm count in men, so use birth control while using this medication.
  • Use of this medication is not recommended during pregnancy as it may harm the unborn baby.
  • Use of this drug is not recommended while breastfeeding.
  • You should avoid getting pregnant while using this drug.

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