Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Taxol vs Taxotere

This morning I wrote about my nervousness as I faced the Terrors of Taxotere.

Only it turns out that I'm not.

I went in for my blood test this morning and apparently my bone marrow is struggling to cope.  My white blood cell count is low again  - too low to start on Taxotere tomorrow as planned.

I could just wait a week as I did last time but the doctor warned me that this is likely to be a recurring problem.  Too many delayed weeks could make the chemo less effective, never mind the fact that it would drag on forever.

So, the alternative?  Taxol.  Less severe on the white blood cells so I can start tomorrow as planned.
And the catch?  Taxol is administered weekly.  So instead of three more rounds of chemo with one every three weeks, I'm now facing nine rounds of chemo with one every week including both weeks of the kids' Christmas holidays.  I am really not feeling happy about that.

Still, if I try and focus on the big picture, the good news is that Taxol seems to be at least as effective as Taxotere.  Some studies suggest that weekly Taxol may even be more effective.  As for side effects, it's the same class of drug so the type of side effects are the same: muscle and bone pain, numbness in hands and feet (neuropathy), diarrhoea, nausea, possible loss of finger and toe nails.

My doctor assured me that side effects tend to be less severe on weekly Taxol than with the larger dose of Taxotere every three weeks.  A quick trawl of cancer blogs and discussion groups show a more complex picture with some women complaining of worse symptoms with Taxol, especially for neuropathy.

Perhaps the moral is that I should listen to the doctor and not frighten myself with Google searches....  Because the bottom line is the same: everyone is different and no-one knows how I will react until I try it. As with so many things in this field, it's a confusing and complex picture and there are no straightforward answers. 

The only thing I know for sure is that I will now be spending a lot more time at hospital.

I'd better go and buy some good books.

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