Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Allergic reactions: This medication may cause an allergic reaction (flushing of the face, severe back pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath) within the first few minutes of receiving paclitaxel. You will be asked to take some medication prior to treatment with paclitaxel to reduce your chances of experiencing a reaction.
Arrhythmia: People with heart rhythm problems may experience a worsening of these problems due to this medication. If you have a heart problem, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly as usual. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that do not stop bleeding.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: This medication may cause fatigue and weakness which may affect the mental or physical abilities needed to drive or operate machinery. Avoid driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous tasks until you have determined how this medication affects you.
Eye problems: Paclitaxel may cause a rare eye problem called cystoid macular edema, which reults in blurred vision due to swelling of the retina. If you notice blurred vision or any other vision changes, notify your doctor immediately.
Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people who have a contagious infection and tell your doctor immediately if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills.
Liver function: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause increased side effects with this medication. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor will test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.
Nerve pain: Paclitaxel may cause a mild burning, tingling, or numbing sensation of the fingers and toes. This side effect is rarely severe and usually goes away once you finish treatment.
Pregnancy: There are no adequate studies of use of this medication by pregnant women, however paclitaxel may cause severe harm to a developing baby if it is used by the mother during pregnancy. This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if paclitaxel passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
Seniors: People over the age of 65 may be at increased risk of side effects from this medication.