Docetaxelis a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer.
2. Who might be offered docetaxel?
Docetaxel can be used to treat primary breast cancer breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast or the lymph nodes (glands) under the arm. Chemotherapy is given to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning or spreading.
Docetaxel is usually started a few weeks after surgery, known as adjuvant (additional) therapy. It can also be given before surgery this is called neo-adjuvant therapy. If youre going to have radiotherapy or hormone therapy, youll usually complete the docetaxel first.
It may also be given to people with:
local recurrence breast cancer that has come back in the chest/breast area or in the skin near the original site or scar, but has not spread to other parts of the body
locally advanced breast cancer (also called regional recurrence) breast cancer that has come back and has spread to the tissues and lymph nodes around the chest, neck and under the breastbone
secondary breast cancer breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body
3. How does docetaxel work?
Chemotherapy drugs interfere with how cancer cells develop and grow, and different drugs do this in different ways.
Docetaxel works by stopping the cancer cells from dividing and multiplying, which blocks the growth of the cancer.
4. How is docetaxel given?
Docetaxel is given through a drip into a vein (intravenously) in the hand or arm, although there are other ways of giving it depending on factors such as how easy it is to find suitable veins.
It may be used alone or with other chemotherapy or anti-cancer drugs. You will have docetaxel as an outpatient.
How long treatment lasts -Docetaxel is normally given every three weeks over approximately one hour.
In primary breast cancer three to six treatment cycles are usually given. For locally advanced and secondary breast cancer the number of cycles will vary depending on the individual.
The time between each cycle of treatment gives your body time to recover This may vary depending on whether the number of blood cells has returned to normal between each cycle.
Before each cycle you will be given medication to reduce the chances of any possible reactions.
Before starting docetaxel -your treatment many hospitals will arrange a chemotherapy information session.
5. Common side effects of docetaxel
effects on the blood
risk of infection
hair loss (alopecia)
numbness and tingling in hands and feet
painful muscles and joints
fluid retention and weight gain
cognitive impairment or chemo brain
nausea and vomiting
pain in the injection site
effects on fertility
6. Less common side effects of docetaxel
changes in heart rate and blood pressure,allergic reaction,effects on the lungs
7. Contraception-Having docetaxel while pregnant may be harmful to a developing baby.
8. Vaccinations -Some vaccines are safe to have during chemotherapy, others are not. If you need a vaccination, discuss this with your specialist team first.You shouldnt have any live vaccines while youre having chemotherapy. Live vaccines include measles, rubella (German measles), polio, BCG (tuberculosis), shingles and yellow fever.
9. Blood clots - People with breast cancer have a higher risk of blood clots. Their risk is higher because of the cancer itself and some treatments for breast cancer. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (secondary breast cancer), this also increases the risk.
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