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Docetaxel Prescription
Generic Name: docetaxel (doe se TAX el)
Brand Name: Taxotere, Docefrez
Physician reviewed docetaxel patient information - includes docetaxel description, dosage and directions.
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Docetaxel Drug Information:

Docetaxel is used to treat breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, and head/neck cancer. Docetaxel may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide. Docetaxel can cause severe side effects including death, especially if you receive high doses, if you have liver disease, or if you have non-small cell lung cancer and you have been treated in the past with chemotherapy that contains platinum (Cisplatin, Carboplatin, Oxaliplatin). You may have a life-threatening allergic reaction. Get emergency medical help if you have hives, a red skin rash, trouble breathing, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Learn more

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Docetaxel Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of docetaxel include: severe neutropenia, infection, severe leukopenia, severe thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, edema, hypersensitivity condition, peripheral edema, skin rash, alopecia, anemia, arthralgia, asthenia, burning sensation, diarrhea, dysesthesia, fever, increased serum alanine aminotransferase, increased serum aspartate aminotransferase, leukopenia, myalgia, nausea, pain, paresthesia, stomatitis, vomiting, weight gain, nail depigmentation, nail hyperpigmentation, and thinning of nails. Other side effects include: desquamation, increased serum alkaline phosphatase, and increased serum bilirubin. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to docetaxel: intravenous solution


Intravenous route (Solution)

Treatment-related mortality increases with abnormal liver function, at higher doses, and in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma and a history of prior treatment with platinum-based therapy receiving docetaxel at 100 mg/m(2). Docetaxel should generally not be given to patients with bilirubin greater than the ULN, or to patients with AST or ALT greater than 1.5 x ULN concomitant with alkaline phosphatase greater than 2.5 x ULN; these patients are at increased risk for developing severe or life-threatening toxicities. Monitor LFTs prior to each treatment cycle. Docetaxel therapy should not be given to patients with neutrophil counts of less than 1500 cells/mm(3); obtain frequent blood counts to monitor for neutropenia. Severe hypersensitivity reactions, including fatal anaphylaxis, have been reported in patients who received dexamethasone premedication. Use is contraindicated in patients with a severe hypersensitivity to docetaxel or polysorbate 80. Severe fluid retention may occur.

Along with its needed effects, docetaxel may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking docetaxel:

More common

  • Burning, numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms, hands, legs, or feet
  • swelling of the stomach, face, fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weight gain

Less common

  • Black, tarry stools
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • cough or hoarseness (accompanied by fever or chills)
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • difficult or painful urination (accompanied by fever or chills)
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • fast heartbeat
  • fever or chills
  • hives or skin rash
  • itching, puffiness, or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • lower back or side pain (accompanied by fever or chills)
  • noisy, rattling breathing
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • red, scaly, swollen, or peeling areas of the skin (severe)
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing while at rest
  • unusual bleeding or bruising


  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • decreased blood pressure
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure

Some side effects of docetaxel may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Congestion
  • diarrhea
  • dryness or soreness of the throat
  • nausea
  • skin rash or redness (mild)
  • sores or ulcers on the lips or tongue or inside the mouth
  • weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet

Less common

  • Bloody nose
  • body aches or pain
  • change in the color of the fingernails or toenails
  • dry, red, hot, or irritated skin at the injection site
  • headache
  • hoarseness
  • loosening or loss of the fingernails or toenails, sometimes painful
  • pain in the joints or muscles
  • pain, swelling, or lump under the skin at the injection site
  • runny nose
  • tender, swollen glands in the neck
  • voice changes
  • vomiting

incidence not known

  • Burning, dry, or itching eyes
  • burning upper abdominal or stomach pain
  • confusion
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • discharge from the eyes
  • excessive tearing
  • pain and redness of the skin at the place of earlier radiation treatment
  • rapid breathing
  • redness, pain, or swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
  • sunken eyes
  • tearing of the eyes
  • wrinkled skin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to docetaxel: intravenous powder for injection, intravenous solution


The most common adverse reactions across all indications include infections, neutropenia, anemia, febrile neutropenia, hypersensitivity, thrombocytopenia, neuropathy, dysgeusia, dyspnea, constipation, anorexia, nail disorders, fluid retention, asthenia, pain, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, mucositis, alopecia, skin reactions, and myalgia.


Very common (10% or more): Neutropenia (99%), leukopenia (99%), thrombocytopenia (39%), anemia (94%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hemorrhage

Postmarketing reports: Bleeding episodes, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)

The major dose-limiting toxicity of this drug is reversible marrow suppression. In clinical trials, the median time to nadir was 7 days, and the median duration of severe neutropenia (less than 500 cells/mm3) was 7 days.

Hematologic toxicity is increased at higher doses and in patients with elevated baseline liver function tests.


Very common (10% or more): Hypersensitivity (33%)

Common (1% to 10%): Severe hypersensitivity

Frequency not reported: Flushing, rash with or without pruritus, chest tightness, back pain, dyspnea, drug fever, chills

Postmarketing reports: Anaphylactic shock

Severe hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. Minor events, including flushing, rash with or without pruritus, chest tightness, back pain, dyspnea, drug fever, or chills have been reported and after discontinuation of the infusion and instituting treatment as necessary, have resolved.


Very common (10% or more): Fluid retention (60%)

Common (1% to 10%): Severe fluid retention, hypotension, lymphedema, phlebitis, hypertension

Rare (less than 0.1%): Heart failure, sinus tachycardia, atrial flutter, dysrhythmia, unstable angina, pulmonary edema

Postmarketing reports: Atrial fibrillation, deep vein thrombosis, ECG abnormalities, pulmonary embolism, syncope, tachycardia, myocardial infarction, chest pain


Very common (10% or more): Alopecia (98%), cutaneous reactions (54%), nail changes (41%)

Common (1% to 10%): Severe cutaneous reactions, severe nail changes, rash

Rare (less than 0.1%): Onycholysis

Postmarketing reports: Very rare cases of cutaneous lupus erythematosus, rare cases of bullous eruptions such as erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and Scleroderma-like changes usually preceded by peripheral lymphedema, severe hand and foot syndrome, radiation recall

Cutaneous reactions including severe skin toxicity has been reported. Reversible cutaneous reactions include rash mainly on the feet and/or hands, or on the arms, face, or thorax. This is usually accompanied by pruritus. Eruptions generally occur within 1 week of receiving the drug and resolve before the next infusion.

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Neurosensory events (58%), dizziness (16%), headache, hypoesthesia

Common (1% to 10%): Severe neurosensory events

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Somnolence

Frequency not reported: Paresthesia, dysesthesia, neuromotor weakness,

Postmarketing reports: Confusion, seizures or transient loss of consciousness


Postmarketing reports: Acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplasic syndrome

The cumulative risk of developing treatment-related acute myeloid leukemia appears to be similar to the risk observed for other anthracyclines/cyclophosphamide containing adjuvant breast chemotherapy regimens.


Among patients with normal liver function tests at baseline, elevations in bilirubin occurred in 8.9%, increases in AST or ALT to greater than 1.5 times the upper limit of normal (1.5 x ULN), or increases in alkaline phosphatase to greater than 2.5 x ULN occurred in 18.9% and 7.3%, respectively. Increases in AST and/or ALT to greater than 1.5 x ULN concurrently with alkaline phosphatase elevations to greater than 2.5 x ULN occurred in 4.3% of patients. It is unknown whether these changes were drug related or related to the underlying disease condition.

Very common (10% or more): Transaminase elevations, (19%)

Common (1% to 10%): Bilirubin elevations, alkaline phosphatase elevations, transaminase elevations in combination with alkaline phosphatase elevations

Postmarketing reports: Hepatitis


Considering all tumor types, stomatitis has been reported in 42% of patients with normal LFTs at baseline and 49% of patients with elevated LFTs. Severe stomatitis has been reported in 6% of patients with normal LFTs at baseline and 13% of patients with elevated LFTs. Stomatitis appears to be dose dependent.

Very common (10% or more): Stomatitis (52%), nausea (42%), vomiting (23%), diarrhea (43%), constipation (25%), esophagitis/dysphagia/odynophagia (16%)

Common (1% to 10%): Severe gastrointestinal events, severe stomatitis, gastrointestinal pain and cramping, dry mouth

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Gastrointestinal hemorrhage, severe abdominal pain, severe esophagitis

Postmarketing reports: Duodenal ulcer, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, gastrointestinal perforation, ischemic colitis, colitis, intestinal obstruction, ileus, neutropenic enterocolitis, dehydration


Very common (10% or more): Asthenia (up to 66%), severe asthenia (up to 25%), febrile neutropenia (up to 26%), fever in absence of infection (up to 47%)

Common (1% to 10%): Non-septic death, impaired hearing

Postmarketing reports: Ototoxicity, hearing disorders


Infusion reactions were generally mild and consisted of hyperpigmentation, inflammation, redness or dryness of the skin, phlebitis, extravasation, or swelling of the vein.

Common (1% to 10%): Infusion site reactions

Frequency not reported: Hyperpigmentation, inflammation, redness or dryness of the skin, phlebitis, extravasation, swelling of the vein


Very common (10% or more): Lacrimation disorder (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Conjunctivitis

Postmarketing reports: Cystoid macular edema, transient visual disturbances occurring during drug infusion and in association with hypersensitivity reactions (have been reversible upon discontinuation of the infusion)


Very common (10% or more): Cough, rhinorrhea, pharyngolaryngeal pain

Common (1% to 10%): Epistaxis, pneumonia, dyspnea

Postmarketing reports: Acute pulmonary edema, acute respiratory distress syndrome/pneumonitis, interstitial lung disease, interstitial pneumonia, respiratory failure, and pulmonary fibrosis, rare cases of radiation pneumonitis in patients receiving concomitant radiotherapy


Postmarketing reports: Renal insufficiency and renal failure (majority of these cases associated with concomitant nephrotoxic drugs)


Very common (10% or more): Weight gain (15%), weight loss (21%)

Common (1% to 10%): Anorexia

Postmarketing reports: Hyponatremia


Very common (10% or more): Myalgia (33%)

Common (1% to 10%): Severe myalgia, arthralgia, bone pain, back pain


Very common (10% or more): Infections (33%)

Common (1% to 10%): Severe infections, septic death, oral candidiasis


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia


Very common (10% or more): Amenorrhea (62%)

Common (1% to 10%): Menstrual irregularities

Editorial References and Review

Medically reviewed by USARx EDITORIAL TEAM Last updated on 1/27/2021.

Source: Drugs.com Docetaxel (www.drugs.com/mtm/docetaxel.html).