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Permanent Hair Loss (Alopecia) Caused by Breast Cancer Drug Taxotere

Mar 7, 2016

For many women with breast cancer, the chemotherapy drug Taxotere (docetaxel) has been a life-saving treatment. Research suggests, however, that a potential side-effect may occur that can be devastatingly life-altering. Although temporary hair loss has long been part of the understanding of many patients undergoing cancer treatment, permanent hair loss (alopecia) has come to light now that patients are living longer, the Globe & Mail reports.

Taxotere is a chemotherapy drug that has been approved for use in the treatment of breast cancer, some forms of lung cancer, stomach cancer, head and neck cancer, and metastatic prostate cancer, reports the Telegraph. The effectiveness of the drug is not in question, but the fact that women are coming forward in increasing numbers claiming they were not informed of the high rate of permanent hair loss experienced with the use of Taxotere, or given information regarding alternatives giving them the option of choice.

An oncologist, Dr. Bourgeois of Le Mans, France recommends Paclitaxel to his patients, giving these women an alternative to Taxotere citing Paclitaxel has a “negligible percentage of Persistent Significant Alopecia”, or “male pattern baldness.” Paclitaxel works just as well as Taxotere, but has a 12 cycle period of chemotherapy treatment as opposed to Taxotere which has 4 cycles of chemotherapy treatment, according to the Telegraph.

It was not until December 2015, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the Taxotere label to include a warning of permanent hair loss. The label had already warned of eye disorder cystoid macular edema (CME) that can result in impaired vision, as well as alerting that some patients may experience intoxication because of the drug’s alcohol content.

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