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PC (paclitaxel and carboplatin, CarboTaxol)

This page tells you about the chemotherapy drug combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel (Taxol). It is often called CarboTaxol. There is information about

 

About PC

PC is made up of the chemotherapy drugs

It is a treatment for ovarian cancer and for non small cell lung cancer that has spread.

 

How you have PC

You have paclitaxel and carboplatin as fluids into a vein (drips) once every 3 weeks. You may have this treatment 6 or 8 times. This means it takes between 5 and 6 months to finish all your chemotherapy treatment.

You have the drugs into your bloodstream (intravenously). You can have them through a thin, short tube (a cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Or you may have them through a central line, a portacath, or a PICC line. These are long, plastic tubes that give the drugs directly into a large vein in your chest. You have the tube put in before or during your course of treatment and it stays in place as long as you need it.

You can read our information about having chemotherapy into a vein.

The side effects associated with CarboTaxol chemotherapy are listed below. You can use the links to find out more about each side effect. For general information you can go to the cancer drugs side effects section or use the search box at the top of the page.

 

Common side effects

More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of the side effects listed below.

  • An increased risk of getting an infection from a drop in white blood cells – it is harder to fight infections and you can become very ill. You may have headaches, aching muscles, a cough, a sore throat, pain passing urine, or you may feel cold and shivery. If you have a severe infection this can be life threatening. Contact your treatment centre straight away if you have any of these effects or if your temperature goes above 38°C. You will have regular blood tests to check your blood cell levels
  • Tiredness and breathlessness due to a drop in red blood cells (anaemia) – you may need a blood transfusion
  • Bruising more easily due to a drop in platelets – you may have nosebleeds, or bleeding gums after brushing your teeth. Or you may have lots of tiny red spots or bruises on your arms or legs (known as petechiae)
  • Tiredness (fatigue) during and after treatment – most people find their energy levels are back to normal within 6 months to a year
  • Feeling or being sick affects most people but can usually be well controlled with anti sickness medicines
  • Aching joints and muscles occur in up to 6 out of 10 people (60%)
  • About 1 in 6 people (16%) have immediate minor reactions to paclitaxel, such as becoming flushed or developing a rash – let you nurse know if you have this
  • Hair loss 
  • Kidney damage – you will have blood tests before your treatment to check that your kidneys are able to cope with the drugs
  • Mouth sores and ulcers
  • Diarrhoea
  • Numbness and tingling in fingers and toes can cause difficulty with fiddly things such as doing up buttons. This starts within a few days or weeks and usually goes within a few months of finishing treatment
  • Low blood pressure affects more than 1 in 10 people (10%)
  • Liver changes that are very mild and unlikely to cause symptoms. The liver will almost certainly go back to normal when treatment ends. You will have regular blood tests to check how well your liver is working
  • Women may stop having periods (amenorrhoea) – this may only be temporary
  • Loss of fertility – you may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after this treatment. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment
 

Occasional side effects

Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these effects.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste or a metallic taste in your mouth
  • Reduced ability to hear some high pitched sounds – this usually gets better on its own
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) affects about 1 in 100 people (1%)
  • Slowing down of the heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Tummy (abdominal) pain
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation around the drip sitetell your doctor or chemotherapy nurse straight away if you notice any signs of redness, swelling or leaking at your drip site
 

Rare side effects

Some people have an allergic reaction, usually at the first or second treatment. This occurs in fewer than 1 in 100 people (fewer than 1%). Let your treatment team know straight away if you have skin rashes, itching, flushing, breathlessness or swelling of the face, lips or throat.

 

Important points to remember

The side effects above may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse through your course of treatment, or more side effects may develop as the course goes on. This depends on

  • How many times you've had the drug before
  • Your general health
  • The amount of the drug you have (the dose)
  • Other drugs you are having

Coping with side effects

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so they can help you manage them. They can give you advice or reassure you. Your nurse will give you a contact number to ring if you have any questions or problems. If in doubt, call them.

Other medicines

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Some drugs can react together.

Pregnancy and contraception

These drugs may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Breastfeeding

Do not breastfeed during this treatment because the drugs may come through in the breast milk.

 

Immunisations and chemotherapy

You should not have immunisations with live vaccines while you are having chemotherapy or for at least 6 months afterwards. In the UK, these include rubella, mumps, measles (usually given together as MMR), BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can have other vaccines, but they may not give you as much protection as usual until your immune system has fully recovered from your chemotherapy. It is safe to have the flu vaccine.

It is safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. There can be problems with vaccines you take by mouth (oral vaccines), but not many people in the UK have these now. So there is usually no problem in being with any baby or child who has recently had any vaccination in the UK. You might need to make sure that you aren't in contact with anyone who has had oral polio, cholera or typhoid vaccination recently, particularly if you live abroad.

 

More information about PC drugs

This page does not list all the very rare side effects of this treatment that are very unlikely to affect you. For further information look at the Electronic Medicines Compendium website at www.medicines.org.uk.

If you have a side effect not mentioned here that you think may be due to this treatment you can report it to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at www.mhra.gov.uk.

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Updated: 30 March 2015