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What is Pacitaxel?
Pacitaxel is a chemotherapy drug that is used to treat breast cancer and other types of cancer. Pacitaxel is used to treat people with secondary breast cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) where the cancer has either not responded to previous chemotherapy drugs or other chemotherapy drugs are not appropriate.
How does Pacitaxel work?
Pacitaxel works in a different way from other chemotherapy drugs, which is why it is useful when cancer is not responding to other types of chemotherapy. When normal cells start dividing structures called microtubules are formed. Once the cells stop dividing these microtubules are broken down or destroyed. However, with cancer cells Pacitaxel stops the microtubules from breaking down. the cells become blocked by microtubules so that they can't grow and divide, and they eventually die.
How is it given?
Pacitaxel is given as a drip into a vein in the hand or arm. It is normally given every three weeks over a three-hour period and you will usually have up to six treatments as an outpatient. Sometimes it my be given weekly in lower doses to try to minimize its side effects. Pacitaxel is sometimes given with other types of chemotherapy and anti-cancer drugs.
Potential side effect?
Pacitaxel can have a temporary effect on bone marrow, which is where blood cells are made. This can result in a low white cell count (increased risk of infection), a low platelet count (risk of bruising or bleeding) and occasionally a low red cell count (anaemia). The blood count will normally fall about seven days after you start your treatment. If it drops below a certain level your next treatment may be delayed until your while cell count is within safe levels.
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