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Docetaxel (Injection)

Docetaxel (doe-se-TAX-el)

Treats breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, and head and neck cancer.

Brand Name(s):

Docefrez, Taxotere

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not be treated with this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to docetaxel or to a preservative called polysorbate 80. You should not receive this medicine if you are pregnant or if you have a low number of white blood cells.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor may tell you to take a steroid medicine such as dexamethasone (Decadron®) to help prevent some of the side effects of docetaxel. Your doctor will tell you how and when to take this medicine. You might want to write your medicine schedule on a calendar to help you remember. If you forget, be sure and tell your doctor or health caregiver before you receive your docetaxel treatment.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • If you get your treatments at a clinic, the staff at the clinic will keep your medicine there.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • This medicine may interfere with vaccines. Ask your doctor before you get a flu shot or any other vaccines.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also taking cyclosporine (Sandimmune®), erythromycin (EES®), or ketoconazole (Nizoral®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, or if you have liver disease.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Avoid people who are ill, and wash your hands often. Brush and floss your teeth gently, do not play rough sports, and be careful with sharp objects.
  • This medicine can cause rashes, trouble breathing, or swelling. You will get medicine before your treatment to help prevent these problems.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash.
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath.
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, or fainting.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Red or black stools.
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Severe tearing and burning of your eyes.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Change in hearing.
  • Change in taste or smell.
  • Changes in the appearance of fingernails or toenails.
  • Dry skin, or mild skin rash or itching.
  • Hair loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain or cramps.
  • Mild tearing, burning, or dry, itchy eyes.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.
  • Warmth or redness in your face, neck, arms, or upper chest.
  • Weight loss.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 4/4/2014

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