Taxotere is a chemotherapeutic drug which is used to treat:
- Breast cancer;
- Prostate cancer.
- Non-small cell lung cancer;
- Stomach cancer; and
- Head and Neck cancer.
Taxotere attacks cancerous cells when they are dividing, and if mitosis is halted, the cell will die. This is how taxotere chemo helps stop cancer. Taxotere also kills normal cells, but these cells will eventually be replaced with other healthy cells so the damage, which a patient experiences as side effects, is not usually permanent. However studies have shown that taxotere does cause permanent hair loss, sometimes loss of all body hair including eyebrows, in as many as 15% of patients.
Taxotere is also being tested for other forms of taxotere chemo cancer treatment. Taxotere is administered intravenously, either injected or with an IV. Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cell mitosis (cell division). Normal cells have checks and balances which prevent them from continuing to divide when they come into contact with other like cells (contact inhibition). Cancerous cells do not stop dividing.
Taxotere for Prostate Cancer
Taxotere chemo is usually the first step in a schedule of chemotherapeutic drugs to treat prostate cancer. It is usually given combined with prednisone, a steroid drug. If Taxotere does not work, the doctor will try the next drug on the list (Cabazitaxel). Though chemotherapy will slow prostate cancer down and allow a patient to live longer, it usually does not cure prostate cancer.
Taxotere for Breast Cancer
Taxotere was first approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of breast cancer in 1996. Taxotere is used to treat advanced breast cancer which has spread (metastasised) to other organs, and early stage breast cancer that spread to the lymph nodes after surgery.
Taxotere has been successfully used with other chemotherapeutic drugs to treat breast cancer in a high percentage of patients. Side effects of taxotere chemotherapy can be severe, but usually are not permanent. But studies have shown that Taxotere can cause permanent hair loss in as high as 15% of patients, which could be a calculated risk for a woman who wants to live, if Taxotere chemo were the only viable choice. However we do have other drugs that are proven to be just as effective in treating breast cancer and do not cause permanent hair loss.
Taxotere for Lung Cancer
Taxotere chemotherapy was approved by the FDA in 1999 for the second-line treatment (when the first treatment did not work) of non-small cell lung cancer. It was FDA approved as a first-line non-small cell lung cancer treatment in 2002, combined with cisplatin. Taxotere chemo is used in combination with other drugs/treatments such as surgery to halt mitosis and kill the cancerous cells.
Survival rates vary depending on the stage of cancer and the individual patient’s health. If non-small cell lung cancer is caught early (stage 1) survival of 5+ years is around 45%. Survival percentages go down depending on the stage of cancer and many other variables, but statistics are averages, and do not apply to every patient. It’s always good to work with your doctor and maximize your ability to fight the cancer.
Taxotere for Other Cancers
Taxotere chemo was FDA approved for treating Gastric Cancer in March 2006, and Head and Neck Cancer in October 2006.
Gastric cancer is usually diagnosed in advanced stage. Prognosis for advanced gastric cancer is poor, but chemotherapy can prolong and improve the quality of a patient’s life for many months, and some patients do survive longer.
Taxotere has been used for inoperative head and neck cancer with some success in lengthening and quality of life.