Permanent Hair Loss – The Disfiguring Side-effect of Taxotere

Chemotherapy uses drugs or a combination of drugs during breast cancer treatment for purposes that include the shrinking of tumors, killing of remaining cancer cells (which were not removed during radiation therapy or surgery), curing of the cancer, slowing the cancer’s growth, keeping the cancer from spreading, and destruction of cancer cells that may have metastasized or that have spread to other parts of the body.

In chemotherapy, the drug used works by targeting rapidly growing cancer cells. During treatment, however, even healthy cells that grow rapidly also are affected, resulting to side-effects, like vomiting and diarrhea, when cells that line the stomach are affected, and/or alopecia, or loss of hair, when the cells in hair follicles get affected.

There are more than a hundred chemotherapy drugs used in treating breast cancer. One particular drug, Taxotere, which belongs to a class called plant alkaloids, was also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat other types of cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer, prostate cancer, gastric cancer, and head and neck cancer.

Every year, about 180,000 to 300,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer (this is the most common form of cancer in women); more than half of them are treated with Taxotere. Because this drug is able to interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells, it is said to be capable of improving life expectancy; however, is has also been linked to a disfiguring side effect: permanent hair loss, also called permanent alopecia.

As different from the hair loss suffered by breast cancer patients who have chemotherapy treatment, Taxotere hair loss is permanent rather than temporary. In 2005, Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Taxotere, informed other countries about Taxotere’s disfiguring side-effect. This same warning was also made in the U.S., but in 2015, ten years after and also after tens of thousands more of women have been treated with the drug.

Concealment of information on Taxotere’s disfiguring side-effect have denied breast cancer patients to make an informed choice. Due to this, many of them now suffer from permanent hair loss, which has profoundly impacted their quality of life. Due to it also, Sanofi-Aventis now faces lawsuits filed by angry and very disappointed women.

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