Management of toxicities associated with the administration of taxanes

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2003 Mar;2(2):141-6. doi: 10.1517/14740338.2.2.141.


The taxanes (paclitaxel and docetaxel) are highly active cytotoxic antineoplastic agents. Common toxicities of the drugs include total alopecia, hypersensitivity reactions, bone marrow suppression (principally neutropenia), arthralgia, myalgias, and peripheral neuropathy. When administered as a 3-h infusion, paclitaxel appears to be associated with a lower risk of neutropenia and a greater risk of peripheral neuropathy, compared to either 24-h infusion paclitaxel or docetaxel (1-h infusion). Neither paclitaxel nor docetaxel is associated with a high risk for significant emesis. High cumulative doses of docetaxel have been shown to produce fluid retention (e.g., oedema, ascites, pleural effusions), while paclitaxel, when combined with doxorubicin, increases the risk of anthracycline-induced heart failure. Both paclitaxel and docetaxel have been administered at lower dose levels, on a weekly schedule, with acceptable toxicity profiles. In general, the side effects of the taxanes are manageable, and few patients discontinue treatment due to excessive toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Docetaxel
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects*
  • Taxoids / administration & dosage
  • Taxoids / adverse effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel