A Case of Permanent Hair Loss Due to Taxotere

Taxotere, (with the generic name, Docetaxel) is a cancer medication that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of a variety of cancers including non-small cell lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, gastric cancer, and head and neck cancer.

Taxotere belongs to a family of chemotherapy drugs known as plant alkaloids. Chemotherapy is a form of treatment where cancer cells are killed; this is done by stopping cell division. Taxotere works by damaging the RNA or DNA, which informs the cells how to copy themselves while they divide. Cells that fail to divide die, resulting to the shrinking of cancerous tumors.

Some chemotherapy drugs are called cell-cycle specific; these are drugs that affect cells but only when they are dividing. Taxotere is one kind of drug that is cell-cycle specific. As a chemotherapy drug, it affects the blood cells that are found in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and hair follicles; this can result in low blood count, mouth sore, nausea, diarrhea, and/or hair loss (affected part of the body depends on the type of drug used).

For the past couple of years, women, who suffered from breast cancer and had been treated with Taxotere, have continuously surfaced to file lawsuits against Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Taxotere. The lawsuits filed are based on the drug’s side-effect, called alopecia, or permanent hair loss.

According to the law firm Williams Kherkher, Taxotere had been used to treat about 75% of all women in the U.S. who have, or formerly had, breast cancer. One big question they all ask is why, despite the availability of alternative chemotherapy drugs that were at least as -if not more – effective, doctors continued to recommend Taxotere without even informing them of the significantly increased chance of permanent hair loss.

Aside from loss of enjoyment of life, permanent baldness in women can also lead to psychological damage, additional medical expenses, and lost wages for cancer survivors who only wish to return to a normal life.


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