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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Docetaxel (Taxotere®, Docefrez®)


Brand Names: Taxotere®, Docefrez®

Docetaxel is used in the treatment of certain types of breast, lung, prostate, stomach, and head and neck cancers. Less commonly, this drug may be used to treat ovarian cancer.

Docetaxel is a chemotherapy drug that belongs to a class of medications known as taxanes. This drug works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells in the body.

This medication is given as an injection into a vein (intravenously). Each injection usually takes about 1 hour, and the drug is commonly given once every 3 weeks. Often, a steroid medication such as dexamethasone is given to patients taking docetaxel to help prevent certain side effects.

Docetaxel side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between docetaxel and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had a liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. Docetaxel should not be taken during breastfeeding. If you have surgery and/or dental work during treatment, be sure to tell your doctor and/or dentist that you are taking docetaxel.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in taste
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle, joint, or bone pain
  • Hair loss
  • Nail changes
  • Increased eye tearing
  • Mouth or throat sores
  • Redness, dryness or swelling at the site on the body where the drug was injected

Some of docetaxel’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Blistering skin
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the hands or feet
  • Weakness in the hands or feet
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Nosebleeds

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of docetaxel with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Docetaxel for cancer treatment

Docetaxel is approved by the FDA for the following cancer treatments:

  • As a single agent for locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has worsened after treatment with other chemotherapy
  • In combination with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide as an adjuvant (postsurgical) treatment for breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes
  • In combination with prednisone for androgen-independent, hormone-refractory metastatic prostate cancer
  • In combination with cisplatin and fluorouracil as an initial treatment for advanced gastric adenocarcinoma, including the gastroesophageal junction
  • In combination with cisplatin and fluorouracil for induction (preliminary) treatment of locally advanced squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck

At CTCA, our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.