TAC (Taxotere, Adriamycin, and Cyclophosphamide) is a chemotherapy regimen that can be given for localized breast cancers with a relatively high risk of recurrence.

It is a combination of three chemotherapy medicines:

Docetaxel is a type of chemotherapy medicine called an taxane. Doxorubicin is a type of chemotherapy medicine called an anthracycline. Cyclophosphamide is a type of chemotherapy medicine called an alkylating agent.


How TAC works

Docetaxel works by damaging the structure or the “skeleton” that supports cancer cells. This stops the cancer cells from growing and dividing.

Doxorubicin damages the DNA inside the cancer cells. The damage stops the cells from dividing, which causes them to die.

Cyclophosphamide attaches to and damages the DNA in cancer cells when they are in their resting phase (not dividing). After their DNA is damaged, the cells can’t keep dividing, and their growth slows or stops.


Who gets TAC

TAC can be used to treat localized breast cancers that require chemotherapy. It may also used to treat breast cancers that return, depending on the treatments you received in the past.

You and your doctor will discuss the best chemotherapy treatment for your situation.


How TAC is given

TAC can be given after surgery as adjuvant therapy, or before surgery as neoadjuvant therapy.

All three medicines are usually given by vein on the first day of each cycle of treatment, followed by a 20-day rest period, making each cycle 3 weeks long. TAC is usually given for six cycles, for an average total treatment time of 18 weeks.


Side effects and things to remember

Different medicines have different side effects. You may not have every side effect related to each medicine of the combination therapy.

Common side effects of TAC include:

Less common side effects include:

  • Heart changes
  • Leukemia, a blood cancer
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing

Before starting TAC, be sure to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements, and over-the-counter medicines, to make sure they won’t interfere with your chemotherapy treatment.

You should avoid becoming pregnant while you are receiving TAC. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while you are undergoing treatment.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so that they can help you manage them. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.


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Reviewed and updated: August 31, 2015

Reviewed by: Laura M. Spring, MD


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