Manufactured and marketed by Sanofi-Aventis and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, Taxotere® (docetaxel) is a popular chemotherapy drug used to treat breast, prostate, advanced stomach, head and neck, and non-small cell lung cancers.
Taxotere is the most prescribed drug in its class, used to treat up to 75 percent of breast cancer patients in the United States. Studies indicate the drug is incredibly effective at extending the survival of cancer patients, but Taxotere use is not without risk. In addition to the slew of uncomfortable side effects commonly associated with chemotherapy treatments, Taxotere is alleged to cause permanent hair loss—known as alopecia—in a small percentage of patients.
While hair loss during chemotherapy is to be expected, affected patients claim that Sanofi-Aventis failed to warn them that the loss of their hair could be permanent. Although there is no sure-fire way to prevent hair loss during Taxotere chemotherapy treatments, taking certain precautions may slow the loss of hair.
Benefits of Taxotere Treatment
Taxotere is just one of many chemotherapy treatments available to cancer patients in the United States. However, unlike other drugs in its class, patients only have to receive Taxotere treatments every three weeks, rather than weekly. This makes it easy for cancer patients to fit Taxotere treatments into their busy schedules, and gives them time to rest and regain their energy between chemotherapy treatments. For these and other reasons, Taxotere remains a popular cancer treatment options, despite the associated side effects.
Tips for Reducing Hair Loss
While the vast majority of cancer patients being treated with Taxotere will experience whole body hair loss, most patients find that their hair grows back three-to-six months after they've completed treatment.
Taxotere patients can use the following tips to reduce or slow their cancer treatment-related hair loss:
- Wear special “cold caps.” Cooled to specific, very cold, temperatures, cold caps narrow the blood vessels underneath the skin of the scalp. This limits the amount of medication that reaches hair follicles, making them less likely to fall out. Wear a cold cap before, during, and after Taxotere treatments.
- Wash gently and condition well. Use a gentle shampoo and a rich moisturizing conditioner to make it easier to comb through the hair after a shower or bath, reducing the number of hairs that are shed. Also, don't shampoo more than twice per week to prevent excess hair loss.
- Choose more natural products. Avoid harsh shampoos with alcohol and other chemicals that make hair dry and more prone to fall out.
- Don't color, bleach or perm hair during chemo. Chemical processing sometimes damages follicles and makes hair drier, so you're more likely to lose it.
- Avoid heat styling your hair. Forgoing the use of a hairdryer or curling/straightening irons can help cancer patients put off the loss of their hair.
- Cover your head when sleeping. Wear a hair net or a soft, beanie-style hat while sleeping to prevent friction between your hair and pillow.
- Don't use hair rollers. They cause hair to break and fall out faster.
Do You Suffer From Permanent Alopecia Caused by Taxotere?
Despite the fact that most cancer patients know to expect the temporary loss of their hair, many patients still report that losing their hair, even temporarily, was one of the most emotionally difficult side effects associated with their chemotherapy treatment. Some patients consider the regrowth of their hair akin to regaining their sense of self. Unfortunately, because Sanofi-Aventis failed to disclose that permanent alopecia could be a side effect for a small percentage of Taxotere patients, those patients didn't have the information they needed to make an informed decision about their treatment.
If you're suffering from permanent alopecia following Taxotere chemotherapy treatment, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the drug's manufacturer to pursue compensation for damages, including emotional pain and suffering. Contact the McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.