Breast Cancer Drug Taxotere Tied to Permanent Hair Loss


Taxotere (docetaxel) is often used in the treatment of breast cancer. Taxotere has also been approved for the treatment for certain forms of lung cancer, stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, and metastic prostate cancer. What has recently come to light are claims of permanent hair loss (alopecia) in women who have been taking Taxotere who state they had not been warned of this life-altering side-effect to this medication, reports the Globe & Mail.

Dr. Bourgeois, an oncologist from Le Mans, France, has been recommending an alternative for his patients called Paclitaxel. His stance is that the drug works as well as Taxotere and has a “negligible percentage of Persistent Significant Alopecia.” The difference is that Taxotere has a 4 cycle treatment, with a higher risk of permanent hair loss, while Paclitaxel has a 12 cycle treatment with a minimal risk of permanent hair loss. Dr. Bourgeois’ contention is to give his patients the pertinent information and allow them to have input in their choice of drug treatment, wrote the Telegraph.

Aside from permanent hair loss, there are other documented side-effects to taking Taxotere. These include: bone, muscle, or joint pain, constipation, diarrhea, fluid retention (swelling of ankles or the abdominal area), nausea, low red blood cell count (anemia), low white blood cell count, and fatigue.

In December 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the Taxotere label to include warning of permanent hair loss. This was added to the already existing warning of potential eye disorder cystoid macular edema (CME) which can lead to impaired vision. There is also a chance of patients experiencing intoxication due to an alcohol presence in the medicine and users of the drug are advised to refrain from driving or operating machinery directly after infusion of Taxotere, the Telegraph reports.