Taxol (Paclitaxel) Side Effects and Patient Stories | The Patient Story

Taxol (Paclitaxel) Side Effects and Patient Stories

Here’s what cancer patients in our community had to say about their experiences and side effects with Taxol, which goes by the generic name of paclitaxel.

It’s a type of chemotherapy drug that is often used to treat cancers including, but not limited to: breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, endometrial, prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma (Hodgkin’s, non-Hodgkin’s), and sarcoma.


What are some Taxol side effects?

Our community members reported a range of side effects, which vary depending on the individual, dosage, and other factors. Some of those side effects include:

  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Neuropathy
  • Pain (in joints)
  • Allergic reaction

Taxol Patient Experiences

Breast Cancer Stories

I felt I could pretty much eat normally. The cumulative of the effect of the chemo was definitely brittle nails. I didn’t end up losing any nails but you could just tell they were really brittle and really dry.

Sometimes I’d go from diarrhea to constipation, even in one week. It was just a crazy roller-coaster of things.

I think emotionally I just felt a little less stable with the Taxol, I just felt more anxiety. It could have just been the cumulative effect of chemo and just the whole weight of everything. But I definitely felt just more vulnerable than I ever had, emotionally.

»MORE: Tina Conrad, Breast, Invasive & Lobular, Stage 3A, ER+
Taxol Use: Once a week for 12 weeks

The Taxol really affected me. That one was the one that was supposed to be easier, according to all of my friends and what I read on the online chats. I threw up and I think it was when I started the Taxol. Within a day or two after the treatment day, I just started feeling this pain, mostly in my knees, in my joints, and in my feet. I couldn’t stand up out of bed.  I had to hold onto things to walk and it was this excruciating pain.

I remember being in bed and trying to take pain meds. I was on Oxycodone which was the best for me, but that wouldn’t take the pain away. I got really bad neuropathy. I remember after the first round I couldn’t stand up. I just curled up in a ball just in pain.

I called my oncologist, went in, and talked with her about it. She suggested reducing the dose so we tried again at 25-percent less dosage. It was a little better but not good enough for me to be able to go about my daily routine.

»MORE:Margaret Abe Koga, Breast, IDC & DCIS, Stage 2
Taxol use: Prescribed for 6 chemo cycles, stopped after 2

I was fine the day after infusions. The day after that, I felt like a train hit me. My bones ached, I couldn’t hardly function, and I was nauseous. They had given me anti-nausea medications, but I felt fine the day before, so I didn’t take them. I learned very quickly that even if you’re not feeling nauseous, you should still take the medicine. 

I would be tired and need a day to recuperate, but then I’d be okay. It wasn’t so bad. I felt so much better on the Taxol and Herceptin than I did on the AC.

I had some fatigue and diarrhea a couple of times, but other than that, it was so much easier. My hair started growing back during it, which I was not expecting. 

»MORE: Stefanie Hauser, Breast, IDC, Triple+, Stage 3

Cervical Cancer Stories

I didn’t feel any sort of pain. They would give me these steroids I’d take before and after. I’d actually go into the office during my non-chemo days and be functional, working. I was able to eat, I didn’t feel sick at all. It just felt like normal. Except for the days I had chemo, I felt totally normal.

»MORE: Mila Lazarevsky, Cervical, Squamous Cell, Stage 1B1

Ovarian Cancer Stories

I was going every week for 18 weeks to get paclitaxel (Taxol) so my nerves were being affected. Every three weeks, I would get carboplatin along with the paclitaxel.

The very first time you get chemo, and they don’t always talk about this, a lot of times your body can go into freak out because it’s the first time you’re getting a poison put into your body.

Sometimes you’ll start to feel like you can’t breathe. And if that’s happening and you’re starting to panic when you first are getting your chemo, please tell the nurse. They know all about this.

»MORE: Heather McCollum, Ovarian Cancer, Stage 2C
Taxol use: Once a week for 18 weeks

I got infusions once every three weeks for 18 weeks, so it was six cycles. Each time took about five or six hours. It was Carboplatin and Taxol every time. Taxol is the one that takes about three hours.

»MORE: Alisa Manzelli, Ovarian Cancer, Stage 3C
Taxol use: Infusion once every three weeks

With Taxol, they tell you around day 15 you’re going to start noticing some thinning. Sure enough, my hair was just shedding. It looked like tumbleweed blowing around in the bathroom. Then a few days later, I would touch it and it would just come out in my hands. I couldn’t touch it at all without it coming out. 

»MORE: Shirley Pattan, Ovarian Cancer, Stage 3C, BRCA1+
Taxol use: Once every three weeks


All Patient Stories with Taxol Listed

Ovarian Cancer Stories: High-Grade Serous, Stage 1C | Randalynn’s Story

Randalynn V., High-Grade, Stage 1C



Cancer details:Account for up to 70% of cases
1st Symptoms:Pulling sensation when emptying bladder; abdominal pain
Treatment:Chemotherapy (Carboplatin & Paclitaxel) & surgery
...
Ovarian Cancer Stories: High-Grade Serous Carcinoma, Stage 3C, BRCA1+ | Shirley’s Story

Shirley P., High-Grade Serous Carcinoma, Stage 3C, BRCA1+



Cancer details:Account for up to 70% of cases
1st Symptoms:Pulling sensation when emptying bladder; abdominal pain
Treatment: Chemotherapy (Carboplatin & Taxol), de-bulking surgery & PARP inhibitors
...
Ovarian Cancer Stories: Low Grade Serous Carcinoma, Stage 4B | Cheyann Shaw

Cheyann S., Low-Grade Serous Carcinoma, Stage 4B



Cancer details: Makes up approximately 10% of cases of serous ovarian cancer.
1st Symptoms:
Stomach pain, constipation, lump on right side above pubic area
Treatments:
Cancer debulking surgery, chemotherapy (Carboplatin & Taxol, then Doxil & Avastin)
...
Ovarian Cancer Stories: Low Grade Serous, Stage 3C | Alisa’s Story

Alisa M., Low-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer



Cancer details:Makes up approximately 10% of cases of serous ovarian cancer
1st Symptoms:Occasional rectal pain, acid reflux, bloating, night sweats
Treatment: Debulking surgies, chemotherapy, immunotherapy
...
Ovarian Cancer Stories: Epithelial, Stage 2C & Uterine Cancer, Stage 1A | Heather’s Story

Heather M., Epithelial Ovarian Cancer, Stage 2



Cancer Details: Also diagnosed w/uterine cancer 1A same time.
1st Symptoms: Extreme bloating, pinching pain in right side of abdomen, extreme fatigue
Treatment: Surgery (total hysterectomy), chemo (Taxol once a week for 18 week, Carboplatin every 3 weeks), concurrent clinical trial (Avastin) every 3 weeks
...
Metastatic Cervical Cancer Stories: Squamous Cell, Stage 4B | Brittany’s Story

Brittany W., Squamous Cell, Stage 4B



1st Symptoms: Spotting after sex, eventual significant bleeding at random
Treatment: Chemotherapy (Cisplatin) concurrent with radiation, 6 rounds adjuvant chemo, 2nd round radiation, immunotherapy trial, targeted therapy
...
Cervical Cancer Stories: Squamous Cell, Stage 1B1 | Mila’s Story

Mila L., Squamous, Stage 1B



1st Symptoms: Abnormal lump in cervix area, bleeding after sex
Treatment: Chemotherapy (Cisplatin), radiation, adjuvant chemotherapy (Carboplatin + Paclitaxel
...
Breast Cancer Stories: Invasive & Lobular, Stage 3A,  ER+ | Tina’s Story
Tina C., Ductal & Lobular Carcinoma in Situ, Stage 3A, ER+



Cancer details: Both ductal and lobular, estrogen receptor positive. Different than breast cancer Tina’s mom was diagnosed w/ twice.
1st Symptoms: Sunken in nipple of right breast
Treatment: Double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC & DCIS, Stage 2 | Margaret’s Story

Margaret A., IDC & DCIS, Stage 2B



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer. DCIS means cancer has not spread into surrounding breast tissue
1st Symptoms: Pain in left breast, left nipple inverting
Treatment: Double mastectomy, chemo (AC-T), Radiation
...
Metastatic Breast Cancer Story: IDC, TNBC (Triple Negative), Stage 2B, Relapse, Stage 4 | Erin’s Story

Erin C., IDC, Triple Negative, Stage 2B/4 Metastatic



Cancer details: Triple negative doesn’t have any receptors commonly found in breast cancer making it harder to treat
1st Symptoms: Pain in breast
Treatment: Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation
...
Metastatic Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, HER2+, Stage 3, Relapse, Stage 4 | Renee’s Story

Renee N., IDC, Stage 3, HER2+



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer.
1st Symptoms: Lump in breast
Treatment: chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy, radiation
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 3, Grade 3, Triple Negative (TNBC), BRCA1+ | Stephanie’s  Story

Stephanie J., Stage 3, Triple Negative, BRCA1+



Cancer details: Triple negative doesn’t have any receptors commonly found in breast cancer
1st Symptoms: Lump in left breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, surgery
...
Breast Cancer Story: Pregnant with Cancer, IDC, Stage 2B to Stage 3 | Andrea’s Story

Andrea A., IDC, Stage 2B/3, ER+



Cancer details: Found cancer while pregnant
1st Symptoms: Divot in breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Triple +, Stage 3 | Stefanie’s Story

Stefanie H., IDC, Triple Positive, Stage 3



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer. Triple positive = positive for HER2, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR)
1st Symptoms: Lump in breast
Treatment: chemotherapy, lumpectomy, radiation
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, Soft Tissue Sarcoma as 2nd Cancer | Monica’s Story

Monica H., IDC, Stage 2B



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer.
1st Symptoms: Tightness and lump in left breast
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, Grade 2, ER+ | Callie’s Story

Callie M., IDC, Stage 2B, Grade 2, ER+



Cancer Details: ER positive = estrogen receptor positive
1st Symptoms:
Dimpling/lump found on breast
Treatment:
Mastectomy, AC/T chemotherapy, hysterectomy, reconstruction
...
Breast Cancer Stories: Triple Negative (TNBC), IDC,Stage 2, Grade 3, BRCA1+ | Joy’s Story

Joy R., IDC, Stage 2, Triple Negative



Cancer details: Triple negative doesn’t have any receptors commonly found in breast cancer making it harder to treat
1st Symptoms: Lump in breast
Treatment: Chemo, double mastectomy, hysterectomy
...
Breast Cancer Stories: IDC, Stage 2B, ER+, PR+| Caitlin’s Story

Caitlin J., IDC, Stage 2B, ER/PR Positive



Cancer Details: ER/PR positive = estrogen and progesterone receptor positive
1st Symptoms:
Lump found on breast
Treatment:
Lumpectomy, AC/T chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy (Lupron and Anastrozole)
...
Breast Cancer Stories: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), Stage 1B | Rachel’s Story

Rachel Y., IDC, Stage 1B



Cancer details: IDC is most common kind of breast cancer. Stage 1B.
1st Symptoms: None, caught by delayed mammogram
Treatment: Double mastectomy, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, hormone therapy Tamoxifen
...