Paclitaxel: Uses & Side Effects

Paclitaxel is used to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer. It is also used to treat AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma.

How is paclitaxel given?

Paclitaxel is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection. You may be given other medications to prevent an allergic reaction while you are receiving paclitaxel.

Paclitaxel is usually given once every 3 weeks. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions very carefully.

Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, kidney function, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving paclitaxel.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when paclitaxel is injected.

Paclitaxel can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.


You should not be treated with paclitaxel if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • low white blood cell (WBC) counts;
  • an allergy to castor oil (contained in paclitaxel and other medicines such as cyclosporine or teniposide).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart problems;
  • liver disease.

Paclitaxel may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant.

You should not breast-feed while you are using paclitaxel.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; feeling like you might pass out; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe stomach pain or diarrhea;
  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
  • numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands or feet;
  • severe redness or irritation, swelling or a hard lump, or other skin changes where the injection was given (may occur 7 to 10 days after an injection);
  • pain or burning when you urinate;
  • chest pain, shortness of breath;
  • wheezing, cough with or without mucus;
  • fast or slow heartbeats;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • a seizure;
  • severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears;
  • 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.

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever;
  • low blood cell counts, feeling weak or tired;
  • bleeding;
  • trouble breathing;
  • hair loss;
  • numbness or tingling;
  • swelling in your face, hands, or feet;
  • sores or white patches in or around your mouth;
  • joint or muscle pain;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • mild redness or tenderness where the medicine was injected.


Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

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

Keyword: paclitaxel.

* 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.