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Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

21 Aug 2015 09:34

Good morning.  I'm after some advice, if I may.  During my first course of the above chemo, I had an allergic reaction.  I remember calling for help as I didn't feel well and thought I was going to pass out.  I did, and came round with an oxygen mask on and the most awful pulsating pain in my lower back.  I did feel bad but eventually it wore off and after about half an hour I was all right.  Some staff have told me that people usually get it during their first cycle; others during the second or third.  Other staff have told me that it's quite possible that I may get it again next time and, if so, they'll have to "think" about what to do.  Is this a farily "normal" experience and, if so, was it a "one off" or do you experience it each time you have your chemo?

Thank you.

Battling Babe

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

24 Aug 2015 15:14 in response to Battling Babe

Hello Battling Babe,

Thank you for posting a question. I am sorry to learn about what happened during  your chemotherapy treatment. This must have been difficult for you.

Although I cannot know this for sure, I think that you could have been allergic to the Taxol (paclitaxel) rather than the carboplatin, as it can cause nasty reactions in a small number of people. Some people can be allergic to carboplatin, but this is a less likely culprit.

In fact when paclitaxel was first being developed the research was almost stopped because of allergy. But they soon learnt that infusing it over a longer period of time and administering steroids and antihistamines prior to treatment greatly reduced the risk of severe reactions. So now it seems than less 1 in 100 people receiving the drug get this problem. The staff on the chemotherapy unit will be aware of the fact that it can cause severe allergy and will have protocols about how the reaction can be treated. Allergic reactions can develop with the first infusion of Taxol or subsequent treatments. So I can’t tell you if this might be a “one off” or not. But if it does happen, this is most often within the first few treatments.

When people develop an allergic reaction to carboplatin it usually occurs after the patient has already been exposed to it. So a reaction to carboplatin would be unusual in someone who has never had the drug before. This is another reason why I think that the allergy was probably due to the Taxol.

I am unsure how your situation will be managed, as I am uncertain how concerning the reaction was in medical terms. If it was Taxol that caused the issue the team may administer the infusion over a longer period of time and give higher doses of steroids and antihistamines. So hopefully things will go well next time. Rarely in very severe cases the medical team may prefer not to carry on with Taxol and may continue with carboplatin alone. This may sound worrying but carboplatin can be effective on its own. Carboplatin sensitivity is also managed in a similar way, by giving it more slowly.

I am sorry that I cannot be more specific, but I hope that this reply helps a little. If you have any other questions please do get back to us. If you would like to telephone our freephone number is 0808 800 4040. We are here from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am to 5pm.


Kind regards,




Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

24 Aug 2015 16:04 in response to CRUK Nurse Jean

Thank you, Jean.

Battling Babde

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

24 Aug 2015 17:52 in response to Battling Babe


Hi BB ..... just wanted to say sorry to hear of what happened during your treatment. It must have been very scary for you.  xxxx

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

24 Aug 2015 18:06 in response to max56

Hello Max56

Thank you.  Yes, it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences and, of course, I'm now very apprehensive about the next session.  Hopefully it was a one-off but I'll just have to wait and see and keep everything crossed.

Do take care.

Love BB xx

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

19 Mar 2018 06:51 in response to Battling Babe
Not sure if your still a member on here but wanted to know if you were successful in further treatments of the taxol. I had a reaction on my second cycle, was so scary had the pain in back you had but also difficulty breathing and shaking all over with rash and flushed face. I have been given a cocktail of anti reaction drugs to take before next cycle on 29/3/18 but just wondering if you had any more reactions as I'm really nervous about it now? Thanks

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

19 Mar 2018 22:36 in response to Linkey
Hello - I am receiving Taxol as well for Stage 4 Breast Cancer. I started in December of 2017 and had a reaction the first and second time. My reaction was about 15/20 minutes in each time. I got really hot, turned red, immediately followed by intense lower back spasms and the first time I thought I was going to throw up but I never did. The nurses and even my oncology doctor addressed it immediately. Its a very scary feeling. I have treatment on Mondays, 3 weeks on and 1 off. I've been doing really well since the initial 2 reactions until today. Off last Monday, Chemo today and about 15/20 minutes in, my husband said do you feel ok, you're really red, Immediately followed by the back spasms. Not sure what drove the reaction today but it was just as intense as the first two. They increased the benedryl and released the taxol slowly and I tolerated it. My Oncologist is increasing the benedryl from 25 to 50 going forward. I hope your treatment went well. I would love to know what causes these reactions. Today's completely freaked me out.

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

20 Mar 2018 14:05 in response to trinka

Hi Trinka

I’m sorry to read about the reactions you and the fellow forum members are having due to your chemotherapy treatment.

You have asked a specific question about what causes drug reactions, so here’s my simple explanation for you. Please bear in mind it is much more complex than this.

A human body has a built in defence system called the immune system, which you can read about here. When we introduce a foreign substance into our body like a medication it recognises that this is harmful (although the drug is being given for good reason). So, our immune system is triggered and responds. The response is a chemical reaction within the body and it’s the releasing of these chemicals which cause the ‘allergic reaction’. This happens in varying degrees in each person.

These reactions can occur with any medication, but it is known they can occur more commonly with certain types of drugs. The medical team prescribing treatment will know of the drugs that are commonly associated with allergic reactions, so they will usually give preventative medication to reduce and prevent these reactions happening. 

I also wanted to add that whilst the immune system deals with the foreign substance it also produces antibodies. Antibodies are a form of protein which identify and can disable foreign substances. So, when you have the drug again, the antibodies automatically recognise it and direct the immune system to deal with the foreign substance. So, this is why you may have repeated reactions after.

It is way more complex than this and there are also different types of immune reactions, but hope this has helped explain why its happens.

I’m sorry your last cycle freaked you out, and I can appreciate that you may be worried and nervous about the next cycle. It sounds like from what you have said that your oncologist is already thinking of how to help reduce this happening again. So hopefully this will help, but do talk to them again and explain how concerned you are about these reactions. If you have a specialist nurse you could also speak to them in the meantime.

I hope this has been helpful. You are more than welcome to get back to us if you have any more questions or call us on 0808 800 4040. We are here from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

Best wishes


Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

13 Nov 2018 17:06 in response to Linkey

Hi there just seen this. I just had a reaction to 2nd pacitaxol within minutes of srarting which was very scary and had to stop.  How did your next session go. They are talking about giving me drugs to take before my next one and doing it very slowly. I am very nervous about it.


Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

15 Nov 2018 19:03 in response to Maggie5333

Hello All, and especially Maggie.  Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted.  Where does the time go? 

I really do feel for you Linkey, Trinka and Maggie.  I hope you're both recovering well, Linkey and Trinka.  Yes, the allergic reaction is a very nasty experience, especially when you come round from passing out with that awful pulsating pain in your lower back and an oxygen mask on.  If it's any help, Maggie, following the reaction of the first session, immediately before the second one, they gave me an infusion of drugs beforehand (sorry, after three years, I can't remember what it was) and I had the Taxol/Carbo more slowly, which meant that I didn't leave hospital until about two hours after everybody else!  But it was well worth it as, I'm very glad to say, I didn't have another allergic reaction to it.  You're most probably feeling like you've been through a wringer - twice - at the moment and wondering if it's all worth it.  From a personal point of view, I think it is.  It is worrying and frightening, no matter what anybody tells you and all I can say is, you're not alone in feeling like that - you wouldn't be normal if you didn't.  I wish you all the very best with your next sessions and please do let us know how you get on.

BB. xx  

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

15 Nov 2018 20:07 in response to Battling Babe

Hi battling babe (love the name!) 

so sorry you had such a terrifying experience, it’s so horrible feeling helpless like that. I had a reaction to something called Carmustine which i think is similar- it’s a chemo drug used before stem cell transplants, my throat felt like it was burning just 20 minutes after starting the infusion and I had to be given anti is now my only known allergy! These drugs are very harsh on the system so I guess it’s just the shock of the body receiving those drugs  for the first time..I never had another reaction after that. Hope your doing ok now. Take care, Jen x

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

15 Nov 2018 20:28 in response to jenlymphoma24

Hello Jen.  Yes, it's bad enough with the allergic reaction but when you're amongst strangers and feeling so helpless it makes it so much worse.  How are you now?  I had a three-monthly check a few weeks ago and the news was good.  So, hopefully, we're all heading in the right direction.

Take care.

Carol x 

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

16 Nov 2018 11:18 in response to Battling Babe

Hi Everyone

I am in stage 4 of Lung cancer, having done 4 chemos in the last 4 years with different chemicals each of them. I was proposed the chemo with this drug you mentioned. I was intolerant to any chemo I did. Horrible experiences, traumatic I would say. Now the cancer is advanced and metastatic,so I decided not to do chemo anymore because I feel weak due to the cancer and I decided not to risk even feeling worse with chemo side effects. They are awful. This is very personal, but I felt more comfortable giving it up today. 


Take care. x


Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

16 Nov 2018 19:29 in response to Brumi

Hello Brumi

I was so sorry to read your story.  I do hope you have somone with you for company during your future journey and, of course, medical help as and when you need it.  It must have been such an awful decision for you to have to make but, as you said, it is very personal to you and to feel more comfortable after giving it up helps you to feel in control, at least in part, of your future.

Sending you a warm hug.

Love Carol x

Allergic reaction to Taxol/Carbo chemotherapy

2 Dec 2018 13:12 in response to Battling Babe

Hi Carol

I am on my own. But I am relieved with the decision of giving up chemo. Not sure about leaving Oncologist appointment. Is there a point? xx


Thank you!