docetaxel, Taxotere, Docefrez (cont.)

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DOSING: Docetaxel is given intravenously. Doses range from 60 mg/m2 to 100 mg/m2 every 3 weeks in combination with other chemotherapy agents. Dexamethasone also is administered prior to docetaxel to reduce the severity of fluid retention and occurrence of hypersensitivity reactions.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Drugs that reduce the activity of liver enzymes that break down docetaxel and other drugs increase the blood levels of docetaxel and increase its side effects. Examples include ketoconazole (Nizoral, Extina, Xolegel, Kuric), erythromycin (E-Mycin, Eryc, Ery-Tab, Pce, Pediazole, Ilosone), and protease inhibitors (for example, ritonavir [Norvir]).

PREGNANCY: Docetaxel can cause fetal harm when administered to pregnant women. Women of childbearing potential should use an adequate form of contraception and should be advised not to become pregnant during therapy with docetaxel.

NURSING MOTHERS: It is not known whether docetaxel is excreted in human milk. Because of the risk for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, mothers should discontinue nursing prior to taking docetaxel.

SIDE EFFECTS: Following are some of the common side effects associated with docetaxel. Patients who have these or other side effects should tell their doctor or nurse.

Low white blood cell count: Usually, the patient will not feel it if you have a low white blood cell count, since there are no specific symptoms associated with this side effect unless, as a result of the low count, an infection develops. The patient's nurse or doctor will check the patient's blood count if he or she thinks it is necessary. The patient's white blood cells protect the body against infection. Like many agents used to treat cancer, docetaxel (Taxotere) may cause a temporary drop in the number of white blood cells (a condition known as neutropenia) and may increase the risk of infection. However, most people receiving docetaxel (Taxotere) don't develop infections, even when their white blood cell count is low.

Fever: Fever is one of the most common and earliest signs of infection. If a person has a fever over 100 F (37.7 C), make sure to call a doctor or nurse immediately. The patient should also tell the doctor about other symptoms of infection, such as a sore throat or cough or a burning sensation while urinating.

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