Hair loss as a result of the use of Taxotere
Taxotere is an intravenous chemotherapy drug that is mainly used to treat breast cancer. It is also used in the treatment of certain types of lung cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, as well as those affecting the head or neck region. Taxotere is a brand name of the generic drugdocetaxel.
Patients receive treatment through an intravenous line by a medical professional. It is usually given in a cancer center, although it could be a special section or room in any hospital. Most patients can expect to receive doses every three weeks, but this can vary depending on your exact treatment plan.
Cancer is a disease in which cells begin to divide rapidly without stopping in any particular area of the body. These cells can then move from the areas they are supposed to be in and invade other regions of the body. Not only do they invade, but the cancer cells begin to destroy healthy tissue. This can include organs.
When a primary cancer begins tometastatizar, means that the disease is spreading to another region of the body. This can cause a secondary cancer, in which another part of the body is affected. For example, a person with primary breast cancer may end up with secondary lung or neck cancer due to metastasis of the disease.
Why is Taxotere prescribed in such large quantities?
Taxotere, or docetaxel, is prescribed to approximately 75% of all breast cancer patients. The reason it is so often prescribed is because ongoing research has shown promising results. The drug showed a higher survival rate when compared to other available chemotherapy drugs. Not only that, but it has also been shown to have comparatively longer life expectancy survivors.
Permanent hair loss Known side effect, but hidden by Sanofi
Early research indicated very high lifetime rates of alopecia in people taking docetaxel, with higher rates in breast cancer patients than in other populations taking the drug.
Alopeciais a medical term meaning hair loss. It literally translates to hair loss, thinning hair, or baldness in any area that normally contains hair. This includes not only the scalp, but also the eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits or legs, among other places.
sanofi, the maker of Taxotere, buried data showing that up to 9% of breast cancer patients experienced permanent hair loss in their experimental studies. This would have been done so that the company could increase its sales, thus obtaining a higher profit.
Since the patients were not informed about the high possibility of permanent hair loss, they could not prepare properly. This caused significant emotional distress in many patients who will now never grow their hair again when they complete their chemotherapy treatment.
Original Sanofi study (2003)
The original study conducted by Sanofi to ensure the efficacy of their drug was conducted in 2003 by GEICAM 9805. The study was conducted on 1060 people divided into two smaller control groups. Each group was randomly assigned to receive medication or a placebo. The patients were not told who received what.
The results showed that an incredible 9.2% of those included in the study had hair loss that lasted at least ten years. However, this information was not included in the documentation submitted for FDA approval. Therefore, permanent hair loss was not originally mentioned as a possible side effect of the drug.
After the drug was on the market, additional studies were done that confirmed the original findings. These two clinical studies, conducted in 2006 and 2012 respectively, are discussed below.
Clinical study of Dr. Sedlacek (2006)
A clinical study was conducted by physician Scott Sedlacek, an oncologist at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, located in Denver, Colorado (United States). This was the first major study conducted exclusively to find a connection between Taxotere and permanent hair loss in cancer patients.
Conducted in 2006, the study looked specifically for what is known as Significant Persistent Alopecia, also known as PSA for short. For the study, Dr. Sedlacek defined PSA as at least 50% hair loss or thinning that persisted for a minimum of 6 months after the end of treatment.
The data for this study came directly from patients that Dr. Sedlacek treated for about eleven years. To ensure that the results were not compromised, he excluded data from all patients who did not receive a minimum of one year's follow-up after completion of Taxotere chemotherapy treatment.
The results conclusively demonstrated that at least 6% of all patients who received Taxotere suffered from significant persistent alopecia.
A third large study was conducted in France in 2012. It was published in the Annals of Oncology by Drs. Kluger, Jacot, Rigau, Poujol, Dereure, Gulliot, Romieu, and Bessis in May 2012.
This study followed twenty women who took docetaxel as part of their breast cancer treatment. Only one of these women did not experience hair loss in any form. The other nineteen did so, with some participants even losing eyebrows and eyelashes.
What was even more puzzling was that these women tried various methods to regrow their lost hair, but with disappointing results. No method of hair growth therapy has produced any results. Items tested included vitamins, medications, and ultraviolet therapy.
Why is permanent hair loss so important?
Some people may not understand why permanent hair loss is so important, but for those who suffer from it, the consequence is very real.
For many patients who finally hear the news that they are cancer free, reality doesn't set in until their hair grows back. It's a visual reminder that their lives have returned to some form of normalcy after a battle that is taxing both mind and body.
When cancer patients discover that they cannot regrow their hair after completing chemotherapy, many survivors feel angry, upset, frustrated, and depressed. The hair loss then becomes a permanent scar left behind by the cancer and subsequent treatment. This is not good for the already fragile mental health of people who have just bravely fought for the right to live. This, in turn, can lead to anxiety and a host of other mental illnesses.
When does the hair fall out?
Hair usually falls out within two to three weeks of starting the medication. Although it does not occur in all patients treated with docetaxel, it does occur in the overwhelming majority of approximately 75.8%. The risk of hair loss is increased in patients who are taking a secondary chemotherapy drug at the same time or in those who have already received chemotherapy.
Why does my hair fall out after taking Taxotere?
Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting fast-growing cells within the body, since cancer cells divide and multiply rapidly. Unfortunately, these drugs target ALL the fast-growing cells in the body, not just the bad ones. Hair cells grow rapidly and drugs cannot tell them apart from cancerous tumors.
While this is possible with all chemotherapy drugs, scientists are still not sure why hair loss becomes permanent in those taking docetaxel. There are many hypotheses, but so far none have been proven to be true.
Different types of hair loss (permanent, temporary, and thinning)
There are several types of hair loss associated with the use of Taxotere or the generic drug docetaxel. These include permanent, temporary, and thinning.
Permanent hair loss is what has led so many people to file lawsuits against Sanofi. This is a type of hair loss where the fast growing hair cells have been totally eradicated causing irreparable damage. The hair never grows back, even after the drug is stopped. Patients must rely on wigs, hats, and other head coverings to replace their natural hair. Unfortunately, hair replacement therapies are not promising for hair loss through this chemotherapy treatment.
Temporary hair loss is what happens with many other chemotherapy treatments. Hair falls out a few weeks after starting the medicine and does not grow back during use. However, after a few months of stopping the medication, the hair begins to grow back. Sometimes the hair is not as full as it was before chemotherapy, but often it returns to being as full and healthy as before.
Hair loss occurs when the hair does not fall out completely, but may fall out in patches or the strands may not be as full as they used to be. This condition can be permanent or temporary. It is easier to hide than total hair loss and varies in severity. Some patients will notice that their hair is slightly thinner during docetaxel treatment, while others will have hair so thin that they decide to shave their heads and start over.
When does it grow back if it is not permanent?
If the hair loss associated with drug treatment is not permanent, patients can expect their hair to start growing again within a few weeks to a few months after stopping treatment. Once the hair starts to grow, there should be a full head of hair within a month. However, the duration of any considerable amount can take a significant amount of time.
Other Side Effects of Taxotere
While permanent hair loss is the main side effect cited in the lawsuits filed, there were many others. At least 30% of all Taxotere patients experienced at least one of the following side effects:
- Diarrhea, nausea and other stomach ailments
- Fatigue, weakness, and a general feeling of being "out of it"
- Peripheral Neuropathy: A condition that presents with numbness, tingling, burning, cold sensations, and other nervous system disturbances in the hands and feet. occasionally other parts of the body are also affected
- Mouth sores, dry mouth and chapped lips
- Nails that fall off or change color from their normal pigments
- Fluid retention, with or without complications and/or kidney failure
- Infection, difficulty fighting infection, and poor wound healing.
- liver problems
- Pain in bones, joints, muscles and ligaments
- low platelet count
- Sudden changes in vision.
- Redness, with or without scaling of the skin, on the hands and/or feet
- Confusion or a foggy feeling
- Poor coordination and motor skills.
- Shortness of breath, which may be made worse by walking
- Taxotere is prescribed to around 75% of all breast cancer patients.
- 75.8% of all people treated with the drug will experience some type of hair loss
- 1,500 lawsuits have been filed by people claiming to suffer permanent hair loss.
- A 2006 clinical study showed that 6% of patients prescribed Taxotere suffered from significant persistent alopecia
- Sanofi's own study showed significant hair loss in 9.2% of patients.
- At least 30% of all drug users experience some type of side effect.
- A 2012 study showed that 19 out of 20 women using the drug to treat breast cancer experienced some form of permanent hair loss.
Many cancer patients are now expected to suffer permanent hair loss, allegedly due to Sanofi's negligence. The saddest part is that early trials of the drug showed positive evidence that long-term alopecia was present at high rates in those taking the drug.The Taxotere lawsuits claim that Sanofithey showed a lack of respect for the health and well-being of the patient when they buried this information to increase their own sales at the expense of others.
More than 1,500 lawsuits have been filed against Sanofi for its hair lossCollateral damage, and the numbers continue to rise as more people file their claims.
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