Docetaxel: Uses & Sides Effects

Docetaxel is used to treat breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, and head/neck cancer.

How is docetaxel given?

Docetaxel is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Docetaxel can be harmful if it gets on your skin during an IV infusion. If this happens, wash right away with soap and water. Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when docetaxel is injected.

You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results. Your vision may also need to be checked.

You will be given steroid medication to help prevent fluid retention. Keep using the steroid for as long as your doctor has prescribed.


You should not receive docetaxel if you have:

  • a low white blood cell (WBC) count;
  • a history of severe allergic reaction to docetaxel or to any medicine that contains polysorbate 80.

Tell your doctor about your complete health history and all medications you have used. Docetaxel can cause severe side effects including death, especially:

  • if you receive high doses;
  • if you have liver disease;
  • if you have non-small cell lung cancer and you have been treated in the past with chemotherapy that contains platinum (cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver disease;
  • heart disease;
  • fluid retention;
  • if you need to limit your alcohol intake.

Using docetaxel may increase your risk of developing other types of cancer, such as leukemia. Ask your doctor about your specific risk.

Docetaxel can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects if the mother or the father is using this medicine.

  • If you are a woman, do not use docetaxel if you are pregnant. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.
  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your last dose.
  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using docetaxel.

Do not breast-feed while using this medicine, and for at least 2 months after your last dose.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, red skin rash; wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing; feeling like you might pass out; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

You may have swelling in your intestines, which could cause death quickly. Call your doctor right away if you have stomach pain or tenderness, diarrhea, or fever.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • sudden vision problems;
  • redness or peeling of the skin on your arms or legs;
  • numbness, burning, or tingling in your hands or feet;
  • muscle weakness in your arms or legs;
  • a feeling of being drunk–confusion, stumbling, extreme drowsiness;
  • fluid retention–swelling in your lower legs, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath;
  • liver problems–upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • low blood cell counts–fever, chills, tiredness, mouth sores, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed or short of breath.

Side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • swelling, warmth, pain, discoloration, dryness or other skin changes where the injection was given;
  • low blood cell counts, infections;
  • mouth sores, altered sense of taste;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
  • constipation, diarrhea;
  • feeling short of breath;
  • eye redness, watery eyes;
  • feeling weak or tired;
  • swelling in your hands, feet, or face;
  • muscle or joint pain;
  • hair loss (may be permanent in some cases);
  • fingernail or toenail changes.


Docetaxel contains alcohol. Using other drugs that can make you sleepy can worsen the feeling of being drunk. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Keyword: docetaxel.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.