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Conquer Cancer Health News
Drug Information - #1

I would like to provide some information to answer some questions about medications used for cancer patients. Today I would like to focus on Taxol. Taxol is being used for a number of different diagnosis including: ovarian cancer, metastatic breast cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, head and neck cancer and cervical cancer.

Chemotherapy is a term used to describe drugs used to treat cancer. The purpose of these agents is to kill cancer cells or to prevent their growth. All cells whether they are healyly or cancerous, go through several stages of growth that are called cell cycles. Chemotherapeutic medications are normally administered into a vein so that the drug can enter the blood stream and attack cancerous cells to help prevent cell growth at some point in the cell cycle.

Taxol is given as a continuous intravenous infusion over a period of time specified by your doctor (normally 1-3 hours). It is usually given once every 21 days although more recent it has been given in lower dosed on a weekly basis. Before Taxol infusion you should receive additional medications referred to as premedications. These premedications usually include: Desamehtasone (a steroid), Diphenhydramine (an antihisatmine), and cimetididine or rantidine (h2 histimine blocker). These medications help to prevent or minimize the side effects associated with an allergic reaction during the administration of Taxol.

All chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells as well as some normal cells. Because some normal cells may be damaged, side effects occur. Complete hair loss almost always occurs with Taxol. Hair loss usually occurs 14-21 days after treatment has begun. Your body hair should grow back after you have finished your Taxol treatment. Neurpathy or nerve pain may occur with Taxol. Numbness, tingling or burning in the hands and feet may occur. These symptoms normally go away after completing treatment. Joint and muscle pain or weakness my happen a few days after your Taxol treatment. These symptoms usually disappear in less than a week. Other side effects include local skin irritation, stomach upset and diarrhea, loss of appetite, decreased white blood cell count and decreased heart rate and blood pressure. These side effects listed are some of the most common, but they may not be the only ones. Any unusual symptoms should be reported to your doctor.

Reference: Understanding your Taxol Therapy, Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology.

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