Paclitaxel (Injection)

Paclitaxel (Injection)

Paclitaxel (PAK-li-tax-el)

Treats cancer of the ovaries and the breast. Also used to treat some kinds of lung cancer, and an AIDS-related cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Brand Name(s):

Taxol, Onxol, Nov-Onxol, Paclitaxel Novaplus
There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not be treated with this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to paclitaxel.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • This medicine, like all medicines used to treat cancer, is very strong. Make sure you understand why you are getting it and what the risks and benefits of treatment are. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor.  
  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it will be given.  
  • Your medicine will be given through a tube put in one of your veins, usually in your arm, wrist, or hand and sometimes in your chest. This is called intravenous (in-tra-VEEN-us), or IV.  
  • A nurse or other caregiver trained to give cancer drugs will give your treatment.

If a dose is missed::

  • This medicine needs to be given on a regular schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or clinic where you get your treatments for instructions.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • If you get your treatments at a clinic, the staff at the clinic will keep your medicine there.  
  • If you get your treatments at home, you may need to store your medicine. Keep the IV liquid at room temperature, away from heat and light. Do not use after the expiration date and time on the medicine label.  
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.  
  • If you get your treatments at home, you should be given a special container for the used needles, medicine bag or bottles, and tubes. Put it where children or pets cannot reach it.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • You should not use aspirin or products that have aspirin in it (such as some cold medicines) unless you have talked to your doctor.  
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.  
  • Talk to your doctor before getting any vaccines (such as flu shots).  
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also taking ketoconazole (Nizoralreg;).

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Do not breastfeed while you are being given this medicine.  
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have other medical problems, especially chickenpox (or recent exposure to it), herpes zoster (shingles), heart problems, or any kind of infection.  
  • You may get infections more easily while getting this medicine. Stay away from crowds or people with colds, flu, or other infections.  
  • This medicine can cause rashes, trouble breathing, or flushing (reddening in the face). You will get medicine before your cancer treatment to help prevent these problems.  
  • This medicine may cause nausea and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to keep you from feeling sick and throwing up. If the medicine does not help (you can’t keep liquids down), tell your doctor.  
  • Do not get pregnant while you or your sexual partner are being treated with paclitaxel. Use an effective method of birth control while you are getting this medicine.  
  • If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before you start your treatments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Blood in stools or black stools  
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat  
  • Fever, chills, cough, lower back or side pain, or sore throat  
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet  
  • Painful mouth sores that keep your from drinking liquids  
  • Painful, bloody, or difficult urination  
  • Swelling in the face, lips, or throat  
  • Uncontrollable nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea  
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising  
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Hair loss  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Muscle or bone pain  
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms, hands, legs, or feet

Johns Hopkins patient information

Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 16.02.
Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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