Skip to main content


This leaflet provides information about a course of chemotherapy called paclitaxel. Paclitaxel is also known as Taxol. The leaflet will explain what this is and how and when it will be given. It will also tell you about any common side effects you may experience. Contact telephone numbers and details of how to obtain more information about Taxol are available 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 chemotherapy?

Taxol is a chemotherapy drug derived from the bark of the European yew tree.



Why am I having Taxol chemotherapy?

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



How often will I have chemotherapy?

In order for this treatment to be most effective, it is given at specific time intervals. These are called circles.  


This treatment can be given in two different ways. These are explained below. Your nurse or doctor will tell you how your treatment will be given.


Weekly treatment

You will be given Taxol once a week. Your doctor will discuss with you how many cycles you will receive.




Treatment every three weeks

You will receive Taxol once every three weeks. It is normal to have up to 6 cycles. Your doctor will discuss with you how many cycles you will receive.



How often will I see the specialist team?

You will see the specialist team before each cycle. You will have blood tests before each chemotherapy treatment. We will check how you are feeling and discuss any problems you may have. The reason for this is so that we can check how the chemotherapy is affecting you. If your blood results are satisfactory, your chemotherapy will be prescribed.




How will my chemotherapy be given?

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


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


Before your chemotherapy, we will give you drugs through a drip which reduces the risk of you vomiting or developing an allergic reaction to your chemotherapy.



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 in one of the day case treatment areas. Allow an extra 30 minutes for your first treatment. Treatment times vary:


  • If you are having a weekly treatment, it will take up to 3 hours
  • If you are having treatment every three weeks, it will take around 5 hours.


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. The 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

For patients receiving weekly treatment : you may notice that your hair is thinning.


For patients receiving treatment every three weeks : unfortunately, you will lose your hair with this chemotherapy. Your hair will grow back after you finish the treatment. A method called 'scalp cooling' or 'cold capping' can be used to prevent hair loss. We can arrange a wig if you would like one. If you would like more information about scalp cooling or wigs, 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 home after your chemotherapy treatment, contact Velindre Cancer Center for advice. The phone number is on page 8.



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 8.



Diarrhea is not common with this chemotherapy. However, if you open your bowels four times or more than is normal for you within 24 hours, contact Velindre Cancer Center immediately. The phone number is on page 8.


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 your nerves

Taxol can affect the nerves in your hands and feet. This can lead to numbness, tingling or pins and needles. If this happens, tell your doctor or nurse at your next clinic visit, as your treatment may need to be changed.


These symptoms may increase as you have more cycles of chemotherapy. It is important that you are extremely careful when exposing your hands and feet to hot or cold temperatures. These symptoms usually stop a few months after finishing your treatment.


Myalgia (muscle pain)

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


Allergy-like reaction

A small number of patients suffer an allergic-like reaction to Taxol. 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 experience any of these symptoms.


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


Chemotherapy treatment sometimes affects women's periods. They could get heavier, lighter or even stop altogether.


It is important that you do not become pregnant or become a father while you are having chemotherapy treatment as chemotherapy could harm the unborn baby.


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
  • That you have 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.



Prepared April 2010

Reviewed April 2011