Wigs_on_displayHair loss is a common side effect of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. It is usually only a temporary problem, with the hair growing back once the treatment has finished. However, many cancer patients in America have been devastated to discover that after being treated with Taxotere, their hair loss has become a more permanent issue, leading them to file a lawsuit. The problem is so common it’s been labelled Taxotere alopecia.

What is Taxotere?

Taxotere is otherwise referred to as docetaxel and it has been approved by the FDA since 1996 as an effective breast cancer drug. In more recent years it’s also been used to treat gastric, neck, head and prostate cancer. There’s no doubt about its effectiveness, but permanent hair loss has been a surprise development.

The manufacturer does state that the drug may cause hair loss, but it does not give any indication that this could be permanent. Those who have been treated with the drug claim if they had known it would cause permanent hair loss, they would have opted for a different treatment.

Since receiving complaints and lawsuits, the company has now relaunched its side effect warning to indicate that hair loss could be permanent. However, it’s taken a long time to get to that point.

Taxotere Alopecia first reported in 2010

The first major Taxotere Alopecia case occurred back in 2010. At that time, the manufacturers of Taxotere, Sanofi-Aventis, claimed that permanent hair loss caused by the drug was a very rare side effect. However, it was actually found that 1 in 16 patients treated with the drug experienced the ‘rare’ side effect.

The real issue is that patients are not being made aware of the potential permanent hair loss. It’s frightening and devastating going through cancer treatment and having to deal with hair loss as a temporary side effect. So to get through the treatment only to find that the hair is never going to grow back can be a huge blow.

Overall there are many different cancer treatments available, so if you are worried about the effects Taxotere may have on your hair, it’s worth discussing alternative treatments with your doctor. Experts aren’t sure whether the permanent hair loss caused by Taxotere is down to the drug itself, or whether it’s linked to a combination of treatments.

With the recent lawsuits, it’s likely more patients will refuse Taxotere treatment and opt for a less potent drug.

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By Ian Watson

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