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Taxotere is the brand name for a chemotherapy medication known as Docetaxel (DTX), which is used to counteract cancer, including prostate, head and neck, breast, lung, stomach, and ovarian cancer. Taxotere is sometimes used in combination with other chemotherapy medications. Like most chemotherapy drugs, Taxotere is administered via a slow process of injection into a vein.
Multiple studies have found significant increases in mortality—from three months to over five years—following a substantial regimen of at least one week of Taxotere treatment that can be repeated every three weeks. Taxotere treatment for a variety of cancers may eventually lead to remission and recovery from the disease.
While Taxotere provides a promising treatment for cancer, its use necessitates a host of common side effects for some people, including hair loss, numbness in the extremities (hands/feet), vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and muscle pains. In some cases, the side effect of hair loss developed while using Taxotere remains permanent following treatment.
More serious side effects include allergic reactions, such as a rash, persistent itching and swelling (usually of the face, throat, and/or tongue), difficulty breathing, and severe dizziness. These allergic reactions are more prevalent in people with liver conditions.
Serious side effects of Taxotere also include chest pain and vision problems, such as blurred or diminished vision and seeing light flashes. Significant swelling of the hands, feet or legs can also be highly problematic, as can an irregular heartbeat, severe headache and/or stomach pain, and dark stools or stools with blood.
Because Taxotere disrupts the normal function of cell division, it can result in low blood cell counts, which hampers the body’s innate ability to fight infection. Symptoms such as chills, fever and a persistent sore throat are all signs that you may be developing an infection. If this happens while you are taking Taxotere, contact your doctor immediately.
When Taxotere was first approved, Sanofi—the pharmaceutical company who manufactures Taxotere—stated that hair loss was usually temporary and grows back after treatment. However, a study published in 2010 found that 9.2 percent of female patients suffered from permanent hair loss up to 10 years after treatment. Another study conducted in 2014 claimed that from 10 to 15 percent of Taxotere patients suffered from permanent baldness following treatment.
It is generally known that Sanofi was reluctant to acknowledge these findings, no doubt due to the fact that this information would make their drug less popular. The FDA didn’t update the Taxotere warning label until 2015, which now states “in some cases (frequency not known) permanent hair loss has been observed.”
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