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What Are the Most Common Docetaxel Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 25 May 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The prescription drug Docetaxel, with the brand name Taxotere®, is a chemotherapy medicine that attempts to quell cell division in the body. Called a mitotic inhibitor, it's used to counter the spread of various cancers. Along with its successful use in killing and preventing tumors, a number of Docetaxel side effects have been reported. Not only is alopecia, or widespread hair loss, common to most who take the drug, but various other problems could arise. Many minor bodily changes might occur as well as problems from a sudden loss of white or red blood cells to the fingernails and feet changing color.

Alopecia is one of the most commonly reported Docetaxel side effects. As is the case with all mitotic-inhibiting chemotherapy treatments, hair loss can be sudden, because the drug is considered cytotoxic to hair follicles and tumor cells alike. The losses are likely to occur not just on the hairiest regions of the body like the head and armpits, but also on areas like the arms and legs.

A long list of minor bodily changes are listed as potential docetaxel side effects. Many, like nausea, changes in taste, lethargy, loss of appetite and constipation, may arise and subside in a matter of days or benefit from commercial elixirs. Other side effects, like swelling, pain, tingling, burning or weakness, may indicate a more serious reaction and need more urgent medical intervention. Physicians will want to know precisely what side effects their patients are experiencing.

Some Docetaxel side effects need immediate intervention. In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, docetaxel cytotoxicity could cause an allergic reaction. This can range from mild reactions near the injection site, like hives, itchy skin or a rash, to more serious indications, like labored breathing and severe swelling of the tongue or face. It also leads to anemia or neutropenia in most patients; doctors frequently monitor white blood cell and hemoglobin counts to determine what type of blood cell therapy will be needed.

Patients undergoing docetaxel therapy should be aware of all bodily changes and make lists so none are forgotten during visits with the doctor. Aside from the primary docetaxel side effects, several others are possible: yellowing of the fingernails and toenails; fevers; blood in the stool; increased, decreased or painful urination; spells of fainting; swelling in the midsection; swelling of the lymph nodes; jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes; unexplained sores or redness; muscular or skeletal discomfort; a sore throat; and either weight gain or anorexia. A complete breakdown is available at the Taxotere® manufacturer's Web site to indicate how many study patients suffered from each of these side effects.

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