- Question from PlainJane: Does Taxol increase the toxicity of radiation?
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H.
The taxanes (both Taxol and Taxotere) are radiosensitizers. This means that they give sort of a one-two punch to cancer cells. We may eventually use the combination to increase response rates to radiation therapy.
Giving a taxane with radiation at the present time is, however, investigational. Another thing you can see is that giving a taxane after radiation therapy can lead to something called "radiation recall." Areas that received radiation before can become red, as if you just completed radiation therapy, even if it's many months or even years later.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. You can also get radiation recall from Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin) chemotherapy. In general, it's a good idea to avoid giving radiation at the same time as some of these powerful chemotherapy drugs, unless there is definite proof that giving them at the same time is likely to add substantial benefit. At this point, that benefit is unproven and the side effects are higher.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Chemotherapy Updates featured Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about advances in chemotherapy treatment: different types of drugs and regimens, how to reduce or eliminate unpleasant side effects, and more.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2002.
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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