Docetaxel, or Taxotere

Docetaxel, or Taxotere

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Docetaxel, brand name Taxotere amongst others, a taxane from the European yew tree bark and needles; it attacks tubulin in microtubules and is given Intravenously to treat non-small cell lung, breast, head and neck, and prostate cancers. 

Docetaxrl is most commonly known by women as a basic breast cancer treatment FEC-T, or EC-T. After 3 rounds of FEC or EC, a further three rounds are given including T - Taxotere. FEC-T is 5 Fluourourocil, Epirubicin, Cyclophosphamide and Taxotere.

Approved by the FDA in 1996, Docetaxel resembles Paclitaxel, or Taxol, in chemical structure as they are both Taxanes. It was approved originally to.treat advanced breast cancer in patients who had not responded well to chemotherapy with Adriamycin.

By and large it is used to treat locally advanced or cancers that have spread.

Two years later, docetaxel was also approved by the FDA to treat cancer that has spread into other areas of the breast or other parts of the body after treatment with standard chemotherapy. Docetaxel inhibits the division of breast cancer cells by acting on the cell's internal skeleton - its microtubules. The drug is usually given intravenously once every three weeks.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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According to NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) in the UK, docetaxel (given with epirubicin and cyclophosphamide) is recommended as a possible adjuvant treatment for women with early node-positive breast cancer. It can also be used for the treatment of prostate and other cancer

 Docetaxel is now approved to be used on its own, or in conjunction with other drugs.

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  • Breast cancer ( advanced or metastatic): 60 mg/m2to 100 mg/m2IV
  • Breast cancer adjuvant treatment: Six cycles of - 75mg/m2IV over 1 hour after 50 mg/m2of   doxorubicin and 500 mg/m2of cyclophosphamide every 3 weeks.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): 75 mg/m2IV (after failure of platinum therapy) 
  • Prostate cancer: 75mg/m2 IV with 5 mg prednisone twice a day
  • Head and neck cancer : 75 mg/m2 IV then 75 mg/m2 IV of  cisplatin and then followed by 750 mg/m2 IV per day for 24 hours for 4 cycles or 75 mg/m2 IV  then 1000 mg/m2 IV of Fuorouracil for 24 hours for 3 cycles.

Side effects: Side-effects are most common in patients where the liver is compromised - fatty liver, or lesions, for example. Most commonly, patients report fatigue, shortness of breath, lowered resistance to infection, fatigue, anaemia, vomitting, muscle pains, bruising and/or bleeding.

Additionally, docetaxel is also linked to fluid retention, pains in the joints and peripheral neuropathy. There may also be allergic reactions. You may also experience a change in the colour of your nails and allergic reactions and rashes.

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Docetaxel Precautions: 

Contraindicated in pregnancy.

Acute myeloid leukaemia, asthenia (lack of energy), paresthesia, and cutaneous reactions.

It may be given in a sodium chloride solution, but can also be given in a sugar solution - just what you don't need if you have cancer!

Learn about your cancer drugs.
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