Pacitaxel Treatment

Paclitaxel is given as a shot to the vein (intravenously). A licensed physician supervises administration, although a nurse or technician often sticks the tube into the blood vessel. It takes a while for the drug to enter the circulatory system, so the patient is hooked up for over 30 minutes. The time for treatment varies considerably for different patients and different cancers. Sometimes it takes hours to administer the Paclitaxel.

It is common for patients to be "premedicated" with dexamethasone. This is a steroid that acts as an anti-inflammatory and can help stop the patient from getting nauseous during administration of the Paclitaxel.

Because Paclitaxel is a toxin, healthcare providers use gloves. Topical exposures have resulted in tingling, burning and redness.

The website reports these typical dosages

Ovarian carcinoma:

I.V.: 135-175 mg/m2 over 3 hours every 3 weeks or
135 mg/m2 over 24 hours every 3 weeks or
50-80 mg/m2 over 1-3 hours weekly or
1.4-4 mg/m2/day continuous infusion for 14 days every 4 weeks

Oncologists use their experience and judgement to set the regimen. Intraperitoneal (unlabeled route): 60 mg/m2 on day 8 of a 21-day treatment cycle for 6 cycles, in combination with I.V. paclitaxel and intraperitoneal cisplatin. Note: Administration of intraperitoneal paclitaxel should include the standard paclitaxel premedication regimen.

According to an article in the International Journal of Women's Health, "no ideal dosing strategy for paclitaxel exists in ovarian cancer". Attempts to establish an ideal regimen have produced mixed results.

Metastatic breast cancer:

I.V.: 175-250 mg/m2 over 3 hours every 3 weeks or
50-80 mg/m2 weekly or
1.4-4 mg/m2/day continuous infusion for 14 days every 4 weeks

Nonsmall cell lung carcinoma:

I.V.: 135 mg/m2 over 24 hours every 3 weeks

AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma:

I.V.: 135 mg/m2 over 3 hours every 3 weeks
or 100 mg/m2 over 3 hours every 2 weeks

Early clinical trials resulted in unprecedented success in treating ovarian cancer. Taxol had become a miracle drug. The sudden demand for Yew bark led to illegal “Taxus Rustling” and a legal cottage industry harvesting the trees. These new jobs were seen locally as replacements to the declining timber industry. It was obvious to everyone that the demand was unsustainable. Although chemists figured out how to do laboratory synthesis of Paclitaxel, it was not practical. A process that involves biotechnology (plant cell fermentation) is now used to produce the world’s supply of Taxol. By 1995, all dependence upon the Pacific Yew was eliminated.

The popularity of this effective drug made it a blockbuster. Bristol Myers Squibb reported sales of their branded product, Taxol, were almost $1.6 billion in 2000. There were numerous patents for various applications, which began to run out in the late 1990’s. A generic version of the Taxol formulation, Onxol, came on the market in 2000.


Paclitaxel is administered as part of a liquid solution. It's dissolved in polyoxyethylated castor oil (often a branded solvent called Kolliphor EL - formerly Cremophor) and ethanol. Strictly speaking, Taxol refers to the solution rather than the Paclitaxel itself. The side effects of Paclitaxel, like those of many agents, are due to systemic administration - the drug travels through the bloodstream to the bag with paclitaxelwhole body and it stops fast-multiplying cells in the hair follicles and intestines (resulting in hair loss and nausea.)

Patients taking anticonvulsant medicines can tolerate a higher dosage of Paclitaxel. If you take phenytoin or phenobarbital your liver might be better able to eliminate the toxic chemotherapy drug.

Taxol has another downside that other chemotherapy agents don't have in that the Kolliphor and ethanol are toxic. It also does not work well with a range of other medicines. Consult your healthcare provider before starting any new medicine, including over-the-counter products. Make sure your supervising doctor know all drugs you are taking.

Innovators are trying to improve chemotherapy delivery with materials science. Small spheries with pacltaxel enclosed are one viable option researchers are looking at. More on delivery.


Paclitaxel exits the body mostly through the feces. Less than 20% comes out in the urine. Some is broken down by the liver. For a 3-hour administration, the half-life is under 24 hours. For a 24-hour infusion, the half-life is a couple days.

Side Effects of This Drug


Related: A phase I/II study of sepantronium bromide (YM155, survivin suppressor) with paclitaxel and carboplatin in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer

This Website

About Us

Get in Touch

  • Email:
    info - at -
  • Address:
    Chemoth. 12235 Forsythe Dr.
    Austin, TX 78759