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Information sheet on paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin

Fact sheet on paclitaxel (Taxol)

and carboplatin


This leaflet provides information about a course of chemotherapy called paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin. The leaflet will explain what the treatment is and when and how it is given. It will also tell you about common side effects you may experience. Contact telephone numbers and details of how to get more information about this chemotherapy are at the end of this leaflet.


You should read this leaflet alongside the ' General information for patients undergoing chemotherapy' leaflet. If you have not received this leaflet, ask your nurse for a copy.



What is taxol and carboplatin chemotherapy?

Taxol and carboplatin chemotherapy includes the two drugs taxol and carboplatin. Taxol is derived from the bark of the European Yew.



Why am I having taxol and carboplatin chemotherapy?

Your doctor has recommended this type of chemotherapy as we know it is effective in treating the type of cancer you have.


How often will I have my chemotherapy?

In order for this treatment to be most effective, it is given at specific time intervals. These are known as cycles.   It is usual to have a cycle of taxol and carboplatin every 3 weeks for up to 6 cycles. Your doctor will discuss with you the exact number of cycles you will have.



How often will I see the specialist team?

You will see the specialist team before each cycle. You will have regular blood tests and we will check how you are feeling and discuss any problems you may have. This is so we can check how the chemotherapy is affecting you. If your blood results are satisfactory, your chemotherapy will be recommended.



How will my chemotherapy be given?

The chemotherapy will be given through a drip into a vein in the back of your hand or arm. Alternatively, it may be suggested that a thin tube called a PICC line is inserted into a large vein in your upper arm. This cord can remain in place throughout your treatment. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you further.


We have a leaflet that tells you more about PICC lines. Ask if you would like a copy.


Before your chemotherapy, we will give you drugs through your drip that reduce the risk of you vomiting or developing an allergic reaction to your chemotherapy. Then, we will give you the Taxol followed by the carboplatin.


How long will I be in hospital?

Your chemotherapy appointment will be on a different day to your clinic appointment. Your treatment will be given at one of the day case treatment points. The chemotherapy treatment will take about 5 hours. Allow an extra 30 minutes for your first treatment.


You are welcome to bring someone to stay with you during your treatment. There is limited space in the waiting areas and the treatment room, so there is usually no room for more than one person. Treatment areas are not suitable for young children.


What are the possible side effects?

There are a number of possible side effects that can arise with this chemotherapy. The doctors, nurses and pharmacists can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.


Loss of hair

Unfortunately, this chemotherapy will cause you to lose your hair. Your hair will grow back when your treatment is finished. A method called 'scalp cooling' or 'cold cap' can be used to prevent hair loss. We can arrange a wig if you would like one. If you would like more information about wigs or scalp cooling, talk to your nurse.  


We have a leaflet that tells you more about coping with hair loss. Ask your nurse if you would like a copy.




Nausea and vomiting are now uncommon as we will give you anti-nausea medicines, which are usually very effective. If you vomit more than once in 24 hours, even though you regularly take anti-nausea medication when you are at home after your chemotherapy treatment, contact Velindre Cancer Center for advice. The phone number is on page 7.



Your risk of catching infections will be higher as this treatment can reduce your white blood cells which help fight infections. Contact Velindre Cancer Center immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example, flu-like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5° centigrade. The phone number is on page 7.



Diarrhea is not common with this type of chemotherapy. However, if you open your bowels four or more times than is normal for you in 24 hours, contact Velindre Cancer Center immediately. The phone number is on page 7.



Fatigue and fatigue

Chemotherapy can make you feel more tired than usual. It is important to listen to your body and rest if you need to but you should continue with your normal activities if you feel able to do so. For some people, a little exercise can be beneficial as well as rest.



Effects on the nerves in your hands and feet

Taxol can affect the nerves in your hands and feet. This could lead to loss of sensation, tingling or pins and needles. These symptoms may increase as you have more cycles of chemotherapy. It is important to be very careful when exposing your hands or feet to hot or cold temperatures. These symptoms usually disappear within a few months of finishing your treatment.


Myalgia (muscle pain)

Some patients may experience myalgia, which is pain in the muscles or joints. This can sometimes be severe, but will only last for a few days. If you already have painkillers at home, you may find that they relieve the pain. If this does not work, contact Velindre Cancer Centre. The contact telephone number is on page 7.


Allergic reaction

A small number of patients have an allergic reaction to this type of chemotherapy. If this happens, you may feel hot or flushed, itchy, dizzy or generally unwell while having your chemotherapy. This can be easily handled. Tell your nurse straight away if you get any of these symptoms.


A small number of patients develop an itchy rash between treatments with taxol and carboplatin. If this happens, it is important that you tell your doctor or nurse at your next clinic appointment.


This chemotherapy can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. The best thing to do is to avoid strong sunlight, wear a hat and use sunscreen.


Patient information leaflets from manufacturers

Copies of patient information leaflets from drug manufacturers are available from Felindre Pharmacy, or on the internet at These leaflets give detailed information about individual drugs. We do not routinely distribute them as they do not usually provide information on drug combinations and can be difficult to read. Please ask if you would like a copy.


















Contact telephone numbers


Felindre Cancer Center 029 2061 5888

Ask for the chemotherapy pager if you get sick at home and need immediate attention at any time of the day or night. For example, you should call in the case of:

  • If you vomit more than once over a 24 hour period
  • That you have a temperature of 37.5°C or higher
  • If you get diarrhoea



Pharmaceutical department 029 2061 5888 ext. 6223

Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for inquiries about your medicines



Cancer helpline

Tenovus freephone 0808 808 1010

Monday – Friday 9am – 4.30pm for general cancer enquiries











This leaflet has been written by health professionals. The information in this leaflet is based on evidence. The leaflet was endorsed by doctors, nurses and patients. It is reviewed and updated every two years.






















Reviewed May 2013