Expectations and Side Effects of ABRAXANE

What should I expect when I come in for treatment?

Knowing what to expect on the days you get treatment with ABRAXANE can help the process go more smoothly.

Before treatment

  • The healthcare team may take blood, check your blood pressure, and monitor your heart rate
  • You may be given medicine to help prevent nausea
  • Tell your doctor if you have any other medical conditions
  • It is not known whether ABRAXANE interacts with other drugs, so be sure to tell your doctor about any medicines, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements you are taking
  • Since it is not known if ABRAXANE passes into human milk, you should discuss with your doctor if you should receive ABRAXANE or breastfeed
Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Doctor Visit Discussion Guide
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Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

During treatment

  • The healthcare team will continue to check how you are feeling
  • Let the doctor or nurse know if you have any signs of an allergic reaction, including
    • Trouble breathing
    • Skin irritations, such as itching or hives
    • Stuffy or runny nose
    • Sneezing
    • Swelling of the neck, lips, tongue, or throat

Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Questions for my Healthcare Team
Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Questions for my Healthcare Team
Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

After treatment

  • Pay attention to how you feel after you get home
  • Call the doctor right away if you notice any symptoms or side effects. You should contact your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Dehydration
    • Cough
    • Breathing difficulties that do not go away
    • Signs of an allergic reaction

What serious side effects may ABRAXANE cause?

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

ABRAXANE may cause serious side effects. These are not all of the possible side effects of ABRAXANE. For more information, ask your doctor or nurse.

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Decreased Blood Cell Count

ABRAXANE can cause a severe decrease in neutrophils (NOO-troh-fils) (a type of white blood cell important in fighting against bacterial infections) and platelets (PLAYT-lets) important for clotting and to control bleeding. Your doctor will check your blood cell count during your treatment with ABRAXANE and after you have stopped your treatment.

Numbness, Tingling, Pain, or Weakness in the Hands or Feet (Neuropathy) (noor-AH-puh-thee)

You may have numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in your hands or feet. As a result, you may feel clumsy or have trouble buttoning your clothes.

Severe Infection, Called Sepsis (SEP-sis)

Infections can be severe and lead to death. Tell your doctor right away if you have a fever (temperature of greater than 100.4°F) or develop signs of infection.

Lung or Breathing problems

Lung or breathing problems may be severe and can lead to death. Tell your doctor right away if you have a sudden onset of persistent dry cough or shortness of breath.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to ABRAXANE can be severe and sometimes fatal.

What are other risks of taking ABRAXANE?

  • Treatment with ABRAXANE can make liver problems worse. If you have liver problems, your starting dose of ABRAXANE should be lowered or withheld
  • ABRAXANE contains albumin (human), a product of human blood

Are there risks to pregnancy?

  • If you are pregnant or become pregnant, ABRAXANE can harm your unborn baby. You should not become pregnant while taking ABRAXANE. Women who may become pregnant should use effective birth control (contraception). Talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent pregnancy while receiving ABRAXANE
  • If you are a man, you should not father a child during your treatment with ABRAXANE. ABRAXANE can harm the unborn baby of your partner

What are the most common side effects for ABRAXANE?

When starting on ABRAXANE, it is important to pay attention to how you feel. Tell your doctor or nurse about any side effects you may have as soon as you notice them. Here is a list of the most common side effects of ABRAXANE.

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Hair Loss

Your hair may start to fall out after you begin treatment. You may lose hair on your head (scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes) and body.

Numbness, Tingling, Pain, or Weakness in the Hands or Feet (Neuropathy) (noor-AH-puh-thee)

neuropathyYou may have numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in your hands or feet. As a result, you may feel clumsy or have trouble buttoning your clothes.

Abnormal Heartbeat

ABRAXANE may cause your heart to beat a little faster or slower than it normally does.

Tiredness

You may feel weary or worn out, even after you rest.

Joint and Muscle Pain

Your joints or muscles may feel weak or achy.

Changes in Liver Function Tests

ABRAXANE may affect your liver. If this occurs, your skin or the whites of your eyes may look yellow, or you may notice a darker color of your urine. If you already have liver problems before starting treatment, your doctor may reduce the amount of ABRAXANE you receive.

Rash

You may notice small or large spots on your skin that are flat or raised. Your skin may burn or be itchy, red, peeling, or hot.

Low Red Blood Cell Count (Anemia) (uh-NEE-mee-uh)

anemiaYou may feel short of breath, weak, dizzy, or very tired. You may also look pale.

Nausea and Vomiting

You may feel sick to your stomach or have the urge to throw up. You may have no appetite or have trouble keeping food down.

Infections

If ABRAXANE causes a drop in your white blood cell count—called neutropenia (noo-troh-PEE-nee-uh)—you are at greater risk of getting an infection. If this happens, you may run a fever, your skin may feel hot, and your body may ache. You may have other signs of infections, such as chills, sore throat, cough, redness, or swelling.

Diarrhea

You may have loose, watery stools, cramps, bloating, or a sudden urge to have a bowel movement.

Loss of Too Much Water and Needed Fluids From the Body (Dehydration) (dee-hy-DRAY-shun)

Vomiting, diarrhea, and fever may make it hard for you to keep enough fluid in your body. When you become dehydrated, your mouth may feel dry or sticky, you may feel thirsty, dizzy, or very weak, and your skin may “tent,” or stay up, when lightly pinched. You may also have less urine than usual, or it may look dark.

Swelling in the Hands or Feet

You may notice that your hands, arms, legs, or feet feel puffy, swollen, or tender.

What are other possible side effects of ABRAXANE?

  • Other side effects include vision problems, decreased appetite, kidney problems, constipation, and difficulty breathing
  • In some patients receiving ABRAXANE, severe heart and blood vessel side effects have occurred. These include chest pain, heart attack, fluid under the skin, blood clots in the veins or lungs, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure

What are some tips that your healthcare team may suggest to help with side effects?

Side effects of treatment may be different for each person. Your healthcare team is the best source for medical advice on your side effects. It is important to report all side effects to your doctor or nurse right away. Here are tips your healthcare team may suggest to help with some common side effects of ABRAXANE.

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Hair Loss

hair-lossBefore your hair falls out:

  • Consider cutting your hair short
  • Wash your hair gently with mild shampoo
  • Avoid using hair dyes or styling tools that may hurt your scalp or weaken your hair
  • Shop for a wig if you plan to buy one that matches the color of your hair

After your hair falls out:

  • Wear a hat, turban, or scarf, or use sunscreen to protect your scalp from the sun
  • Avoid places that are very hot or very cold
  • Use a satin pillowcase or wear a soft cap when you sleep
  • Think about joining a support group if you are upset about losing your hair

Numbness, Tingling, Pain, or Weakness in the Hands or Feet (Neuropathy) (noor-AH-puh-thee)

  • Wear shoes inside and outdoors
  • Use no-slip bath mats, and clear away clutter to avoid falling
  • Handle sharp objects with care
  • Wear gloves when cooking, cleaning, or washing dishes
  • Test bath water with a thermometer to make sure it’s not too hot
  • Walk slowly and use a cane if you feel unsteady

Tiredness

tiredness
  • Take short naps during the day
  • Stick to a routine
  • Conserve your energy by pacing yourself and asking others to help with chores or errands
  • Try relaxing activities such as massage, meditation, or yoga
  • Do some light exercise if approved by your doctor, but start slowly
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Drink plenty of fluids, unless you have been advised by your doctor to limit fluids

Joint and Muscle Pain

joint-and-muscle-pain
  • Ask your doctor if medicines, massage, or acupuncture may help ease your pain
  • Apply hot or cold packs, and take warm baths to soothe sore areas
  • Try strengthening and flexibility exercises like yoga, but stop if muscle pain gets worse
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight to ease strain on your joints

Rash

  • Take quick showers or sponge baths with warm or cool water instead of long, hot baths
  • Wash with a mild, moisturizing soap
  • Take a bath with colloidal (kuh-LOY-dul) oatmeal, a soothing powder that helps relieve itching
  • Pat yourself dry after bathing
  • Apply moisturizing cream while your skin is still damp
  • Avoid using perfume or aftershave made with alcohol
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing
  • Use sunscreen or protective clothing when outdoors, even on cloudy days
  • Pay attention to skin changes and let your doctor know right away if a rash appears
    • Tell the doctor when the rash started and what it looks like
    • Ask about medicines that may help treat the rash or keep it from getting worse

Low Red Blood Cell Count (Anemia) (uh-NEE-mee-uh)

  • Do only the things that are most important to you
  • Accept help with daily chores and errands
  • Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Take 1 or 2 short naps during the day
  • Stand up slowly to avoid getting dizzy
  • Eat a well-balanced diet including iron-rich foods such as nuts, eggs, and lean beef (unless you are allergic to any of these foods)

Nausea and Vomiting

  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals through the day instead of 3 big meals
  • Choose foods that are easy on your stomach, such as:
    • Clear broth or ginger ale
    • Peppermint or ginger tea
    • Dry toast or crackers
    • White rice or pasta
    • Oatmeal or rice cereal
    • Chicken without skin
    • Bananas or canned fruit
    • Ice pops, sherbet, or gelatin
  • Check with your doctor before changing your diet if you have diabetes or other dietary restrictions
  • Eat foods at room temperature
  • Avoid foods or drinks with strong smells
  • Try meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or picturing peaceful scenes to help you relax
  • Ask your doctor about taking medicines, before, after, and between chemotherapy (KEE-moh-THAYR-uh-pee) treatments to help prevent nausea

Decreased Appetite

decreased-appetite
  • Exercise lightly before meals, if approved by your doctor
  • Drink 6-12 cups of clear liquids throughout the day, unless your doctor has told you to limit fluids
  • Keep healthy snacks handy to eat between meals
  • Have someone help you prepare meals in advance
  • Perk up the taste and smell of food with lemon juice, mint, basil, and other seasonings

Infections

  • Avoid crowds and people with colds
  • Wash your hands often
  • Use moisture cream to heal dry, cracked skin
  • Wear gloves when washing dishes or gardening
  • Brush your teeth after meals with a soft toothbrush and alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Clean cuts, scrapes, or burns right away
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Check with your doctor before getting a flu shot or vaccines

Diarrhea

  • Replace lost nutrients your body needs by choosing foods high in sodium, potassium, pectin, and protein (unless your doctor has told you to avoid certain foods), such as:
    • Soups, broths, sport drinks, and apple juice
    • Crackers and pretzels
    • Applesauce and bananas
    • Baked potatoes without skin
    • Lean meat and cooked eggs
  • Drink 8-12 cups of clear liquid every day
  • Avoid foods that can make diarrhea worse, such as:
    • Coffee, tea, and alcohol
    • Fried, greasy, spicy, or high-fat foods
    • Milk or milk products
    • Nuts, whole-grain breads, and bran

Loss of Too Much Water and Needed Fluids From the Body (Dehydration) (dee-hy-DRAY-shun)

loss-of-water
  • Fill a small cooler with juice boxes, bottled water, or other drinks, and keep it nearby. Take small sips throughout the day
  • Eat bland, moist foods, such as clear soups, canned fruit, gelatin, or popsicles
  • Apply moisturizing cream often to soften dry skin
  • Use lip balm to avoid painful cracking
  • Suck ice chips to relieve dry mouth if you can’t drink enough liquid
  • If your doctor has advised you to limit fluids, ask your healthcare team for tips on replacing the fluid in your body

Swelling in the Hands or Feet

swelling
  • Ask your doctor about wearing special stockings to prevent fluid buildup
  • Wear clothing and shoes that are not too tight
  • When sitting or lying in bed, raise your feet using a footstool, recliner, or pillows
  • Avoid standing on your feet for too long
  • Avoid adding salt at the table and during cooking
  • Eat less canned soup, bacon, chips, and other salty foods
  • Check sodium content on food labels
  • Ask your doctor what your daily limit for sodium should be

How can I work with my healthcare team?

Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Healthcare Team

Taking an active role in your health care may help you feel more in control. One way you can do this is to talk openly and honestly with your healthcare team about everything you are experiencing.

It is important that you talk freely about anything and everything to get the information you want and the support you need. Your team is used to talking with, and listening to, patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Ask questions

  • There is no such thing as a wrong or silly question when it comes to your health
  • Your questions deserve to be answered in a way that you understand. If you don’t understand the answer you’re given, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for a different explanation
  • Stress may cause you to forget things. Write down anything you want to be sure to remember, or bring someone with you to help you remember
  • To help you keep track of information, be sure to keep a list of questions to ask your doctor
Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Healthcare Team

Get answers that you understand

  • If you don’t understand an answer to a question, let your healthcare team know. Be sure that answers to questions or information, such as test results, are explained in a way that isn’t confusing. If you still don’t understand what you’re told, ask to have someone else explain the information to you
  • If you feel that a healthcare team member is too busy or that you are being rushed, insist on finding a private place and time to talk
  • Take notes during your office visit or ask if you can record the doctor’s advice
  • Ask the doctor to say something again if you didn’t get it the first time
  • Repeat back what you thought you heard and ask if you got it right
  • Ask for a visual aid, like a brochure or fact sheet, that you can read at home