Taxane Allergies

I just got back from my Oncologist, and given the reactions I have had this past week and a half since my last chemo treatment, her Director’s Privilege request to the Alberta Cancer Board was approved and I will be switching my second half of my chemo course on a different drug. Both chemos are Taxanes and sound familiar by name. I’m currently on Paclitaxel (brand name: Taxol) and will be moving to nab-Paclitaxel (brand name: Abraxane).

According to AHS:

“Patients who have had severe acute infusion reactions with paclitaxel or docetaxel, considered by the treating physician to be due to the vehicle of the taxanes (cremophor and polysorbate80); or patients who have experienced severe toxicity* from previous administration of other taxanes.”

* “severe toxicity could be due to the pre-medications for the administration of the taxane or due to the taxane itself” (source: AHS)

I will not get chemo this week again and will start on the Abraxane drug next week. Instead of being administered every two weeks, I will now move to a weekly infusion schedule, which means I have 9 more chemo sessions to go. It also means that instead of completing my chemo treatment on August 2, my last chemo will now be September 20th.

For the most part, the side effects of the drug itself are apparently similar: Abraxane (http://chemocare.com/…/drug-in…/Paclitaxel-Proteinbound.aspx) v. Taxol (http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/Paclitaxel.aspx). The main difference is that Taxol is known to create a hypersensitivity reaction (allergic reaction). However, for most people, the pre-chemo medication prevents this from happening. Sadly, I am just plain difficult and reacted to it. Until now, I have never had any allergies or hypersensitivities. Go figure I would react to my chemo.

I asked why patients weren’t automatically put on nab-Paclitaxel (Abraxane) if it is virtually the same drug but is known to cause less reaction. The simple answer: the cost (there are apparently other reasons too, but this is the major one). One dose of Abraxane is approximately 10x the cost of Taxol. So, it completely makes sense to give Taxol given that most of the patients are able to tolerate it, and make exceptions for those who can’t.

Crossing my fingers that this is the last big road bump in my chemo journey.

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