Rapid desensitization for hypersensitivity reactions to paclitaxel and docetaxel: a new standard protocol used in 77 successful treatments

Gynecol Oncol. 2005 Mar;96(3):824-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2004.11.043.


Objective: Administration of paclitaxel is associated with hypersensitivity reactions (HSRs) in up to 9% of patients despite premedication. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a standardized desensitization protocol in patients with HSRs to taxanes, based on our experience with carboplatin desensitization.

Methods: We analyzed seventeen consecutive patients with documented HSRs to taxanes who required continued treatment with a taxane agent. The patients were treated with either paclitaxel or docetaxel using the 6- to 7-h standard desensitization protocol.

Results: Seventeen patients who previously had severe taxane HSRs successfully completed 77 planned cycles of desensitization to paclitaxel or docetaxel, 72 of which were without reactions. Four patients developed HSRs during the desensitization protocol that were much less severe than their original HSRs and tolerated the re-administration of infusions without further reactions. Of these four patients, the first had palmar erythema 8 h after her 1st desensitization. The second patient had mild abdominal pain during her 1st cycle, and the third patient developed mild chest burning during her 2nd and 4th cycles. These three patients also completed subsequent desensitization cycles without reactions. The fourth patient developed a delayed urticaria reaction and gastrointestinal symptoms 6 h after completing her 1st desensitization. She elected to be treated with an alternative chemotherapy and did not receive additional courses of desensitization.

Conclusion: The rapid standard desensitization protocol provides a safe and effective strategy for the re-administration of paclitaxel or docetaxel even after severe HSRs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Desensitization, Immunologic / methods*
  • Docetaxel
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / immunology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage*
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects
  • Paclitaxel / immunology
  • Taxoids / administration & dosage*
  • Taxoids / adverse effects
  • Taxoids / immunology


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Paclitaxel