USMLE

Paclitaxel

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Anti-Neoplastic Drugs
  1. Cyclophosphamide
  2. Methotrexate
  3. Tamoxifen
  4. Cisplatin
  5. Doxorubicin
  6. Imatinib
  7. Paclitaxel
  8. Rituximab
  9. Trastuzumab
  10. Vincristine

Summary

Paclitaxel is a chemotherapy drug used to treat various types of cancer. Specifically, paclitaxel works by inhibiting the function of microtubules, stopping cell division. Paclitaxel causes the standard chemotherapy side effects like bone marrow suppression and GI upset. More specific side effects of paclitaxel include allergy or hypersensitivity, as well as peripheral neuropathy.

Key Points

  • Paclitaxel
    • Mechanism
      • Taxane drug class
      • Antimicrotubule compound that blocks cell division at the M phase
    • Clinical Use
      • Cancer / Chemotherapy
        • Ovarian and breast cancer
        • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
        • Kaposi sarcoma
    • Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
      • Common chemotherapy side effects
        • Bone marrow suppression
          • Common side effect of many chemotherapeutic drugs due to damage of rapidly-dividing blood cell progenitors
          • Leads to anemia (low red blood cells)
            • Fatigue, dyspnea, pallor
          • Leads to leukopenia (low white blood cells)
            • Increased risk for infection
          • Leads to thrombocytopenia (low platelets)
            • Petechiae, purpura, bleeding
        • GI disturbances
          • Nausea, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea
          • Common side effect of many chemotherapeutic drugs due to damage of rapidly-dividing gut wall
          • An antiemetic may be ordered prior to chemotherapy
        • Alopecia (hair loss)
      • Hypersensitivity reactions
        • Black box warning
        • Patients are usually premedicated with dexamethasone (steroid), diphenhydramine (antihistamine), and an H2 blocker.
      • Peripheral neuropathy
      • Joint pain