Abstract:Paclitaxel (Taxol) a taxane antineoplastic agent causing irreversible microtubule aggregation with activity against breast, ovarian, lung, head and neck, bladder, testicular, esophageal, endometrial and other less common tumors was derived from the bark of the Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia). Phase I trials conducted in the late 1980s were almost halted because of the high frequency of hypersensitivity-like reactions. Respiratory distress (dyspnea and/or bronchospasm), hypotension, and angioedema were the major manifestations, but flushing, urticaria, chest, abdomen, and extremity pains were described also. Reactions occurred on first exposure in the majority of cases raising etiologic questions. The vehicle for paclitaxel Cremophor EL (polyoxyethylated castor oil in 50% ethanol) was strongly suspect as a direct (non-immunoglobulin E dependent) histamine releaser. Premedication regimens and longer infusion times lowered the incidence of reactivity allowing phase II and III trials to progress through the early 1990s. The mechanism(s) underlying paclitaxel hypersensitivity-like reactions is still unknown, and clinical data on probable complement and mast cell activation are lacking. The original clinical trial protocols for paclitaxel required discontinuation of therapy for patients who experienced hypersensitivity-like reactions. Here, we review the current etiologic knowledge of these reactions and describe our clinical approach to allow completion of chemotherapy with this powerful plant-derived agent.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2002
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