Breast cancer patients reportedly not being sufficiently warned about permanent side effects of Taxotere

Docetaxel, or more commonly known by its brand name Taxotere, is a medical drug used to treat cancer. The chemotherapy drug can be used to treat breast, head and neck, stomach, prostate and non small-cell cancerous cells.

For breast cancer patients it’s the most popular choice of treatment with 75% opting for Taxotere. However, it has since been revealed that manufacturers have not been quite so explicit with the effects the life-saving drug can have, and patients and physicians have reportedly been kept in the dark that Taxotere can cause permanent hair loss.

When compared to life-threatening cancer, hair loss doesn’t seem so bad to most, but when you consider what these patients are already going through, it’s not very nice to think anyone may be being misled. For a lot of people hair is a symbol of identity, fashion, and beauty; so to be under the impression that hair loss caused by cancer treatment is temporary may only serve to cause further distress later on if it transpires to be permanent.

Taxotere side-effects

As with most medicines, Taxotere comes with a whole range of side effects including:

  • Allergic reactions;
  • Infections;
  • Nausea;
  • Tiredness;
  • Changes in the senses;
  • Muscle and joint pain.

Hair loss is also one of them.

Hair loss is a common side-effect caused by cancer treating medication that most of us are aware of. It’s often portrayed in the media; cancer patients in hospital beds looking pale and sickly with their hair cleanly shaven off. Whilst a lot of patients understand this side-effect is necessary to get better, many may not be expecting to live with wispy and patchy hair for the rest of their lives.

Permanent alopecia

When Shirley Ledlie beat her cancer, I’m sure she was given a new lease of life, and that soon everything would be back to the way it was; feeling and look like herself again. But that day remains out of reach as Taxotere had done permanent damage to her.

Ms Ledlie was devastated to find out that the alopecia was permanent.

“What was supposed to be a temporary side-effect was actually going to be a permanent disfiguring feature in my life. I left the clinic that day in total denial and devoid of any femininity.”

Ms Ledlie has beaten cancer, but ten years later, she is unable to live her life without its lasting implications:

“I felt a complete freak. I was in denial and spent years and hundreds of pounds trying to get my hair back.”

Permanent hair loss a risk

According to Taxotere’s manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis, permanent hair loss only affects 3% of patients who take the drug. However, if you consider the hundreds upon thousands of people using the drug, that 3% may not be so insignificant. There are also different studies and surveys that indicate this number is as high as 21%.

We all deserve an informed decision…

Nonetheless, patients are still capable of understanding their circumstances and the options they have; but they must be presented with them in the first place. They deserve to make an informed decision based on complete facts and advice; something Sanofi may have taken away from them where they failed to warn physicians and patients about the potentially permanent side-effect.

Cancer patients deserve to be told about any adverse side-effects that may occur during or after treatment. Even when they may not have a choice, it’s only fair to make sure patients are clearly put in the picture.

Taxotere is an opt-in drug, and the choice to take the drug needs to be an informed one as it’s a choice they may have to live with for the rest of their lives. It has since been revealed that an alternative drug, Paclitaxel, has a “negligible percentage of persistent significant alopecia” all the while having the same effectiveness as Taxotere in treating cancer.

Whether or not patients have a choice in treatment, it’s imperative they’re informed about potential side-effects. Whilst it potentially cannot change the probabilities of side-effects, nor prevent it, it can help patients to come to terms with it and be ready in case it happens so they can cope with it more easily.

Medical drug manufacturers have an utmost responsibility to ensure the safety and health of patients, and this includes warning them through their physicians of any side-effects. If you suffer from a side-effect that a medical professional or manufacturer neglected to warn you about, you may be entitled to claim for medical negligence compensation for your pain and suffering endured as a result!

The content of this post/page was considered accurate at the time of the original posting and/or at the time of any posted revision. The content of this page may, therefore, be out of date. The information contained within this page does not constitute legal advice. Any reliance you place on the information contained within this page is done so at your own risk.

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