What Are Taxane Chemo Drugs?
Taxanes are a class of chemotherapy drugs used to treat numerous cancers, including breast, lung, stomach, prostate, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer. Taxanes inhibit cancer cell growth by disrupting the cell division process.
Docetaxel, a drug marketed under the name Taxotere, is a taxane chemotherapy drug. Unfortunately, the manufacturer, Sanofi, knew about some harmful and permanent side effects their drug caused and did not warn doctors or patients. Hotze Runkle PLLC lawyers help cancer survivors get compensation for their Taxotere-related injuries. Take our case evaluation quiz or call our office at (800) 763-6155 to find out if you are eligible for a Taxotere lawsuit.
Read on to find out more about how taxanes work to treat cancer, how these drugs are administered, and the serious side effects taxanes can have on patients.
How Do Taxane Drugs Work?
Taxanes are chemotherapy drugs that work by slowing or stopping cancer cell growth. Taxanes treat cancer by stopping mitosis, or the process of cell division. Taxanes are also called “antimicrotubule agents” because they attack microtubules. Microtubules are the cellular structures that facilitate mitosis. By interfering with microtubules, taxanes can prevent new cancer cells from growing and spreading.
As with many chemotherapy drugs, taxanes are typically administered intravenously through the hand, arm, or chest.
List of Taxane Drugs
Below, we have listed the four main taxanes and the types of cancers they treat:
Taxotere and Docefrez (generic name docetaxel)
Docetaxel is used as a treatment for:
- Stomach cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
Docetaxel can also be used to treat other cancers in some cases. Docetaxel is typically administered once every three weeks. These three weeks are known as a cycle. Patients usually go through several cycles over the course of a few months before treatment is complete.
Paclitaxel and Taxol (generic name paclitaxel)
Paclitaxel has been used to treat numerous cancers, including:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Non-small cell lung cancer
The drug can also be used to treat other cancers. Doctors sometimes administer paclitaxel with steroids (by injection or oral tablet). Patients are typically treated in several cycles over a few months. As is the case with other taxanes, treatment is usually given on the first day of each cycle.
Abraxane (generic name paclitaxel protein-bound)
Paclitaxel protein-bound combines the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel and a protein known as albumin. This taxane is marketed under the brand name Abraxane and can be used to treat:
- Breast cancer that has spread to other areas in the body
- Pancreatic cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas
- Non-small cell lung cancer
Paclitaxel protein-bound can be used to treat breast cancer in patients who are allergic to the original version of paclitaxel. Abraxane can also be used to treat other cancers. Treatment is usually administered in several cycles over a few months. Each cycle of paclitaxel protein-bound lasts 3-4 weeks.
Jevtana (generic name cabazitaxel)
Cabazitaxel, marketed under the brand name Jevtana, is used to treat advanced prostate cancer or prostate cancer that has spread to other regions of the body. If hormone therapy ceases to be an effective treatment for prostate cancer, a patient’s doctor may recommend cabazitaxel. Cabazitaxel is typically administered once every three weeks over a few months. The treatment plan usually includes taking prednisolone (a steroid) each day.
How Taxanes Are Administered
Taxane chemotherapy drugs are usually administered by a chemo nurse in a day unit or during a hospital stay. Depending on the patient’s treatment plan, they may receive their medication in combination with other drugs.
Prior to treatment, patients will have their blood drawn to ensure that their blood cell levels are high enough to safely undergo chemotherapy. If the blood test results look promising, treatment can begin.
Taxanes are administered intravenously through:
- A cannula – A cannula is a short, narrow tube that is inserted into a patient’s arm or the back of their hand and removed once the treatment is complete.
- A central line – A central line is longer than a cannula. It is inserted into a vein in the patient’s chest.
- A PICC line – A PICC line is also known as a catheter. It is a long, narrow, flexible tube that is inserted into a large vein in the patient’s arm.
Patients can expect to receive antiemetic drugs before their chemo session starts. These drugs are designed to prevent patients from becoming sick while receiving treatment. Patients may also be given medicine that mitigates the risk of an allergic reaction to taxanes.
Common Side Effects of Taxanes
Some of the most common side effects of taxane chemotherapy drugs include:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Little to no appetite
- Changes in taste
- Mouth sores
- Pain, redness, swelling, hardness, or itching at the injection site
Some less common side effects of taxane chemo drugs that have been noted by patients include:
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Tightness in chest
- Sore throat
- Hair loss/alopecia
- Peripheral neuropathy (weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain in hands, feet, arms, legs, and other parts of the body)
- Reduced white blood cell count
- Anemia, or decreased red blood cell count
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Swelling in the legs, feet, arms, hands, and facial area
- Insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
- Thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet levels)
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Irregular/slow heartbeat
Most patients stop experiencing side effects after treatment ends, often within a few weeks or months. However, some side effects may cause irreversible damage. For instance, patients who develop severe peripheral neuropathy, which involves nerve damage, may find that the condition never totally goes away.
Combining taxanes with certain medications can also cause permanent side effects. For example, mixing taxanes with anthracycline chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to a patient’s heart tissue.
The Taxotere Lawsuit
Taxotere (docetaxel) has also been proven to cause a condition known as canalicular stenosis in the eyes, which can lead to epiphora (excessive tearing). Without prompt treatment, the effects of canalicular stenosis may be irreversible and can only be repaired through advanced surgery.
The manufacturer of Taxotere, Sanofi-Aventis, failed to warn patients that Taxotere could lead to canalicular stenosis. As a result, numerous cancer patients who received Taxotere have filed product liability lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis for neglecting to disclose the risks associated with the drug.
If you suffered from canalicular stenosis or epiphora after receiving Taxotere as a cancer treatment, you could be entitled to seek compensation for any medical expenses and other losses you suffered in relation to your eye condition.
Take our case evaluation quiz or contact Hotze Runkle PLLC at (800) 763-6155 to find out if you are eligible for compensation.