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docetaxel, Taxotere, Docefrez: Drug Facts, Side Effects and Dosing

What is docetaxel, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Docetaxel is a drug that is used primarily for treating breast cancer. Docetaxel works by attacking cancer cells. Every cell in the body contains a supporting structure (almost like a skeleton) called the microtubular network. If this "skeleton" is changed or damaged, the cell can't grow or reproduce. Docetaxel makes the "skeleton" in cancer cells unnaturally stiff, so that these cells can no longer grow.

What brand names are available for docetaxel?

Taxotere, Docefrez

Is docetaxel available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for docetaxel?


What are the uses for docetaxel?

Docetaxel is prescribed primarily for the treatment of breast cancer. Docetaxel is also a second-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, prostrate cancer, gastric adenocarcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

What are the side effects of docetaxel?

Following are some of the common side effects associated with docetaxel. Patients who have these or other side effects should tell their doctor or nurse.

The most common side effects of docetaxel include:

  • changes in your sense of taste
  • feeling short of breath
  • constipation
  • decreased appetite
  • changes in your fingernails or toenails
  • swelling of your hands, face, or feet
  • feeling weak or tired
  • joint and muscle pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • mouth or lips sores
  • hair loss
  • rash
  • redness of the eye, excess tearing
  • skin reactions at the site of docetaxel administration such as increased skin pigmentation, redness, tenderness, swelling, warmth or dryness of the skin
  • tissue damage if docetaxel leaks out of the vein into the tissues

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of docetaxel. For more information talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

What is the dosage for docetaxel?

Docetaxel is given intravenously. Doses range from 60 mg/m2 to 100 mg/m2 every 3 weeks in combination with other chemotherapy agents. Dexamethasone also is administered prior to docetaxel to reduce the severity of fluid retention and occurrence of hypersensitivity reactions.


A lump in the breast is almost always cancer.
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Which drugs or supplements interact with docetaxel?

Drugs that reduce the activity of liver enzymes that break down docetaxel and other drugs increase the blood levels of docetaxel and increase its side effects. Examples include ketoconazole (Nizoral, Extina, Xolegel, Kuric), erythromycin (E-Mycin, Eryc, Ery-Tab, Pce, Pediazole, Ilosone), and protease inhibitors (for example, ritonavir [Norvir]).

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Is docetaxel safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Docetaxel can cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Women of childbearing potential should use an adequate form of contraception and should be advised not to become pregnant during therapy with docetaxel.

NURSING MOTHERS: It is not known whether docetaxel is excreted in human milk. Because of the risk for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, mothers should discontinue nursing prior to taking docetaxel.

What else should I know about docetaxel?

What preparations of docetaxel are available?

Injection Concentrate: 20 mg/0.5 ml, 80 mg/2 ml; Injection (Powder): 20 mg/vial, 80 mg/vial

How should I keep docetaxel stored?

Docetaxel concentrate should be stored between 2 C and 25 C (36 F to 77 F), and the powder should be stored between 2 C and 8 C (36 F and 46 F). They should be retained in their original package to protect them from light.


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