Paclitaxel Side Effects
Nausea and vomiting, hair loss, and muscle or joint pain are some of the most commonly reported paclitaxel side effects. Those that occur rarely but are more serious include high or low blood pressure during an infusion, blood in the stool, and severe fluid retention or difficulty breathing. These rare side effects of paclitaxel should be reported to your healthcare provider right away.
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As with any medicine, side effects are possible with paclitaxel (Taxol®); however, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with paclitaxel. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of paclitaxel side effects with you.)
Paclitaxel has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials, in which a group of people taking the drug have side effects documented. In these studies, the most common side effects of paclitaxel (used alone or in combination with other chemotherapy medications) included:
- Neutropenia (low levels of certain white blood cells called neutrophils) -- in up to 100 percent of people
- Anemia -- up to 97 percent (see Chemotherapy and Anemia)
- Hair loss -- up to 96 percent (see Taxol and Hair Loss)
- Muscle pain or joint pain -- up to 93 percent (Nerve and Muscle Problems During Chemotherapy)
- Nausea and vomiting -- up to 93 percent (see Chemotherapy and Nausea)
- Leukopenia (low levels of a certain type of white blood cells called leukocytes) -- up to 90 percent
- Diarrhea -- up to 90 percent (Chemotherapy-Induced Diarrhea).
Other common paclitaxel side effects, occurring in 3 to 80 percent of people, included:
- Unusual sensations, such as burning or tingling
- Low platelets in the blood (see Blood Clotting Problems and Chemotherapy)
- Mouth sores or sores in the digestive tract (see Mouth and Gum Problems During Chemotherapy)
- Changes in the heart rhythm seen with an electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Slow heart rate (bradycardia).