How long do Taxol pains last?

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Question from Renee: On average, how long should the aches and pains associated with Taxol last after each treatment? Are some of these side effects permanent?
Answers - Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. The muscle pain and joint pain that people have with Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel) are generally nearly gone within 4 to 5 days. If you are receiving this drug once a week, this is not likely to be acceptable to you. Most physicians will help you aggressively manage this pain. Sometimes, the dose may need to be slightly adjusted to make the medication tolerable.

Although the muscle and joint pains are not permanent, the nerve tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes may be permanent. Early onset of nerve-type symptoms may indicate more long-lasting effects.

Do not hesitate to tell your doctors and nurses if you are experiencing either muscle aches or nerve problems, particularly if you are having problems picking things up or buttoning a blouse, for example.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. The good news is that most of the numbness and tingling will eventually go away for most women. But these sensations can certainly last for an extended period of time after all your treatment is finished. If you are experiencing this type of discomfort, Dr. Griggs, what are some of the remedies and medications that you recommend for your patients to try?
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. There are some people who report improvement with B-complex vitamins. I have not been impressed with resolution of symptoms with vitamin supplements, but it is certainly worth a try.

Other medications can help if you are having symptoms of pain or numbness from Taxol. There are many drugs that have been around for a decade, but these require close monitoring of blood levels. For example, Tegretol (chemical name: carbamazepine). A newer drug called gabapentin is very well tolerated by most patients. The doses can be tweaked to achieve the most benefit with the fewest side effects. It sounds as though you are experiencing short-term muscle pains, however, and your doctor can help you manage these after each cycle.

On Wednesday, February 18, 2004, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Chemotherapy UpdatesJennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about advances in chemotherapy treatment: different types of drugs and regimens, how to reduce or eliminate unpleasant side effects, and more.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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