Skip to main content

Paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin 754

Information leaflet on paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin with radiotherapy 754

This leaflet provides information on a course of chemotherapy called paclitaxel (Taxol) and carboplatin given with radiotherapy.   You will also be given a separate leaflet about the radiotherapy. This chemotherapy leaflet will explain what chemotherapy is and when and how it will be given.  It will also explain to you about common side effects that you may experience.  Contact telephone numbers and details of how to obtain further information on this chemotherapy are given at the end of the leaflet.

This leaflet should be read alongside the ‘General information for patients receiving chemotherapy’ folder.  If you haven’t received this folder please ask your nurse for a copy.

What is Taxol and carboplatin chemotherapy?

Taxol and carboplatin chemotherapy consists of the two drugs Taxol and carboplatin.  Taxol originates from the bark of the European Yew tree.  

Why am I having Taxol and carboplatin chemotherapy with radiotherapy?

Your doctor has recommended this treatment because it has been found to be effective in treating your type of cancer. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments can give better results when given together than with either treatment given alone. This is called combination treatment.

How often will I receive my treatment?

Both the radiotherapy and chemotherapy should start approximately at the same time as each other.

Radiotherapy will be given 5 days a week, Monday to Friday for 5 weeks.

The chemotherapy, taxol and carboplatin will be given weekly for 5 weeks, on day 1, day 8, day 15, day 22 and day 29.

How often will I see the specialist team?

You will see the specialist team at regular intervals to check how you are feeling and discuss any problems you may have.  This is so we can check how the treatment is affecting you.  

How will my chemotherapy be given?

Your chemotherapy is given through a drip into a vein in the back of your hand or arm.  In some circumstances it maybe suggested that a fine tube called a PICC is inserted into a large vein in your upper arm.  This will remain in place throughout the course of your treatment.  Your doctor or nurse will discuss this further with you.

We have a leaflet that tells you more about PICC lines if needed. 

Before your chemotherapy we will give you some drugs through your drip which reduce the risk of you being sick or developing an allergic reaction to your chemotherapy.  We will then give you the Taxol followed by the carboplatin. 

How long will I be in the hospital?

Your chemotherapy appointment will be on a different day to your clinic appointment.  Your chemotherapy will be given on one of the day case treatment areas.

Your radiotherapy is given every day, Monday to Friday. Your doctor will discuss with you how long your treatment will last.

When you start your radiotherapy you will visit the hospital every day (Monday to Friday). You radiotherapy booklet tells you how your radiotherapy treatment is planned, how it is given and the possible side effects you may experience. If you would like further information about your radiotherapy please speak to your radiographers.

Your chemotherapy will be given weekly for 5 weeks.  Your chemotherapy will take approximately 3 to 4 hours.  You will have your bloods taken before each treatment.

The nurses on the chemotherapy unit will inform you where and when to have your bloods taken.

Can I bring relatives and friends with me? 

Currently due to the need to ensure 2m space between patients during COVID-19 we do not usually allow anyone to stay with you during your treatment. If you have any concerns about this please speak to your team before your treatment starts. We may be able to make some exceptions but we will need to be aware of this before the day of treatment

What are the possible side effects?

There are a number of possible side effects which can occur with this chemotherapy.  The doctors, nurses and pharmacy team can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.

Hair loss

Any hair loss you experience is only temporary.  Your hair will grow back when your treatment has finished.  A method known as ‘scalp cooling’ or ‘cold capping’ can sometimes be used to prevent hair loss.  

Most patients will experience some hair thinning. However for some patients hair thinning may be considerable and you may lose your hair.   

We can arrange a wig if you would like one.  If you want to know more about scalp cooling or wigs please speak to your nurse.  We have a leaflet that tells you more about coping with hair loss.  Please ask your nurse for a copy. 


Nausea and vomiting are uncommon these days as we will give you anti-sickness medicines which are usually extremely effective.  If you are sick more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular anti-sickness medicine when you are at home after your chemotherapy treatment, contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice.  The telephone number is on page 8.

Skin and tissue damage

Some chemotherapy drugs may damage the skin and surrounding area if they leak outside of your vein.  This is known as extravasation.  It is extremely rare but it is important that you tell us immediately if you notice any swelling, pain or burning at the site of the drip.  If this occurs whilst the chemotherapy is being given, tell your nurse.  If you notice pain, swelling or redness when you’re at home please contact us immediately the telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.


You are at an increased risk of picking up infections because your white blood cells which help fight infections can be reduced by this treatment.  

If you develop an infection whilst your white blood cells are low, you are at risk of sepsis, this can be life threatening. 

Contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example flu like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5°centigrade or if your temperature is below 35.5°.  The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.


Diarrhoea is not common with this chemotherapy.  However, if you have four or more bowel movements in 24 hours above what is normal for you please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately.  The telephone number is on page 8.

Tiredness 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 carry out your normal activities if you feel able.  Some people find it beneficial to take gentle exercise as well as taking rest.

Effects on the nerves of your hands and feet

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

Myalgia (pain in the muscles)

Some patients may experience myalgia which is muscle or joint pain.  This can sometimes be severe but will only last for a few days.  If you already have painkillers at home you may find they relieve the pain.  If this does not work please contact Velindre Cancer Centre.  The telephone number is on page 8.  

Allergic type reaction

A small number of patients experience an allergic type reaction to this chemotherapy.  If this occurs you may feel hot or flushed, itchy, light-headed or generally unwell whilst receiving your chemotherapy.  This can be easily treated.  Please tell your nurse immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

A small number of patients develop an itchy rash between treatments with Taxol and carboplatin.  If this occurs it is important that you report it to your doctor or nurse at your next clinic appointment.

This chemotherapy can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.  It is best to avoid strong sunlight, wear a hat and use a sun block.

You will find information about possible side effects of the radiotherapy in your radiotherapy booklet

Sometimes cancer drugs can have very serious side effects which rarely can be life threatening. It is important to inform Velindre cancer centre if you are concerned about any side-effects.

A diagnosis of cancer can increase your risk of developing a blood clot (thrombosis), and having cancer treatment may increase this risk further.  It is important to tell your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in your leg, or breathlessness and chest pain.  

Blood clots can be very serious.  However, most clots can usually be successfully treated with drugs to thin the blood.  Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.

Manufacturer’s patient information leaflets

Velindre leaflets provide information about very common and commonly reported side-effects (we are unable to list all of the common side effects), for more information regarding these and the less common side-effects please refer to the manufacturers patient information leaflets, obtained from Velindre pharmacy and/or on the internet at Sometimes patients may find these leaflets difficult to read however. Please ask if you would like a copy from your doctor or from Velindre pharmacy

Contact telephone numbers

Velindre Cancer Centre 029 2061 5888
Ask for the treatment helpline if you are unwell at home and need immediate advice at any time of the day or night.  For example you should phone if you:

  • Are sick more than once in 24 hours
  • Have a temperature of 37.5°C or above 
  • Have diarrhoea

Pharmacy department  029 2061 5888 ext 6223
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for queries about your medicines

Macmillan freephone Helpline 0808 808 0000
7 days a week 8am – 8pm for general queries on cancer

Tenovus freephone  0808 808 1010
cancer helpline 
7 days a week 8am – 8pm for general queries on cancer

This information is also available in Welsh

This leaflet was written by health professionals.  The information contained in this leaflet is evidence based.  It has been approved by doctors, nurses and patients.  It is reviewed and updated every 2 years.