Docetaxel may be used in chemotherapy treatment regimens for most types of invasive breast cancer, including triple-negative breast cancer. It can be used with targeted therapy, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), in treating HER2-positive breast cancers.
It can also be given with the chemotherapy medicines doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) after surgery as adjuvant treatment or as neoadjuvant (before surgery) treatment for breast cancers that require chemotherapy.
Docetaxel is sometimes given alone for metastatic breast cancer.
In locally advanced and metastatic breast cancer, docetaxel is usually given every 3 weeks. But it can also be given in low doses weekly, often with fewer side effects. It may be given as long as it keeps the cancer from growing.
Docetaxel can cause an allergic reaction, so your doctor may give you medicine beforehand to prevent it. Usually you will start taking these medicines the day before each treatment and continue for 3 days. In some cases, you get the medicines with your docetaxel treatment instead.
Be sure to get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or red skin rash; difficulty breathing; faintness; or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Other side effects of docetaxel may include:
- Bone or joint pain
- Hair loss
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neuropathy (numbness or tingling in the hands and feet)
- Neutropenia (a low number of a type of white blood cell)
- Nail changes
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen in your body to help give you energy
- White blood cells, which fight infection in your body
- Platelets, which help clot the blood to stop bleeding
Before starting docetaxel, tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the counter-medicines, as well as any existing or previous health problems.