Taxotere (generic name: docetaxel) is a cancer medication that works by interfering with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. It is used to treat a variety of different types of cancer, including:
• Breast cancer
• Lung cancer
• Prostate cancer
• Stomach cancer
• Head/neck cancer
Taxotere is not appropriate for all patients, especially those who are allergic or who have liver disease, or have previously been treated for non-small cell lung cancer with other chemotherapy drugs that contain platinum.
Until recently, the side effects associated with Taxotere have been considered temporary and relatively mild for those whom it is deemed safe to take the drug. Taxotere reduces blood cells in the body responsible for fighting infection and clotting, which means users must use caution and compensate for weakened immunity during treatment.
Additionally, in 2014, the FDA issued a warning that users can become intoxicated following a Taxotere treatment and might “feel drunk” for a period of time following an infusion. Doctors are warned to consider the alcohol content when prescribing or administering the drug to patients, and patients are encouraged not to drive or operate heavy machinery within two hours of a Taxotere infusion.
Taxotere Now Linked to Permanent Hair Loss
There is also evidence the use of Taxotere is linked to alopecia, a condition that causes permanent hair loss. Recently, the FDA ordered the warning label of Taxotere be updated to include information about the risk for alopecia.
As most people know, hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but in most cases this hair loss is temporary. There is evidence that the use of Taxotere prevents hair from ever growing back. The link between alopecia and Taxotere use has been suspected for years, but until recently the manufacturer of the drug, Sanofi-Aventis, refused to acknowledge the risk.
At least two studies within the last decade have confirmed the link between permanent hair loss and Taxotere use. One 2005 study showed more than six percent of breast cancer patients receiving treatment that included Taxotere used with Adriamycin and Cytoxin experienced only a small portion of hair regrowth following treatment.
Many patients have the option of choosing an alternative to Taxotere when treating cancer, so it is important patients speak with their doctors before committing to a particular treatment. It is our belief patients deserve to be warned of all the known side effects of a drug so they can make the most informed decision concerning their treatment plan.