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How Does Paclitaxel Work?

Paclitaxel is part of a group of medications called taxanes. Taxanes stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying by interfering with certain structures in the cell.
While this medication can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by paclitaxel.

When and How to Take Paclitaxel

General considerations for when and how to take paclitaxel include the following:
  • Paclitaxel is given through an IV. Each infusion is given over a one-hour period.
  • You will need to take medications before each dose in order to prevent fluid retention and allergic reactions. Usually, these medications include dexamethasone (Decadron®), diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), or similar medications.
  • Most people receive their injection at their healthcare provider's office, hospital, or at an "infusion center."
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Paclitaxel will not work as well if you stop taking it before your healthcare provider recommends.

Dosing Information

The dose of paclitaxel your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on a number of factors, including:
  • The type of cancer being treated
  • Your height and weight
  • Other medications you may be taking
  • Other medical conditions you may have.
As is always the case, do not adjust your dose unless your healthcare provider specifically instructs you to do so.
(Click Paclitaxel Dosing for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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