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Dealing with the risk of infection while on chemotherapy with Taxotere (docetaxel)

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Jim Marshall (not a doctor) said ...

During chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere (docetaxel), usually starting about 7 - 12 days after each dose, and continuing for up to a week, your blood platelets become low, and you are at a much greater risk of infection.


There is a website developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with experts in the fields of oncology and infection control to help you avoid and deal with infection during chemotherapy.


The information below is from that site:

PreventCancerInfection.org (July 2013)


There is now (June 2016) much more information on the site. Look for Health Tip Sheets in the menu at the top of the page for written material.


... end Jim


Keep this information close at hand. You can print this page out and post it on your refrigerator or bulletin board. You can also cut out the card at the bottom of the printout to keep your doctor’s phone numbers with you at all times as well as help you know what to do if you have to go to the emergency room.





Watch Out for Fever! [jm: High temperature]



You should take your temperature any time you feel warm, flushed, chilled, or not well. If you get a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher for more than one hour, or one-time temperature of 38.3° C (101° F) or higher, call your doctor immediately, even if it is the middle of the night. DO NOT wait until the office re–opens before you call.


You should also:

  • Find out from your doctor when your white blood cell count is likely to be at its lowest since this is when you’re most at risk for infection (also called nadir).
  • Keep a working thermometer in a convenient location and know how to use it.
  • Keep your doctor’s phone numbers with you at all times. Make sure you know what number to call when their office is open and closed.
  • If you have to go to the emergency room, it’s important that you tell the person checking you in that you are a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. If you have a fever, you might have an infection. This can be a life-threatening condition, and you should be seen in a short amount of time.



If you develop a fever during your chemotherapy treatment, it can be a medical emergency.
Fever may be the only sign that you have an infection and an infection during chemotherapy can be life threatening.




Clean Your Hands!



Keeping your hands clean is important in preventing infections. This should include you, all members of your household, your doctors, nurses and anyone that comes around you. Don't be afraid to ask people to wash their hands. Use soap and water to wash your hands. If soap and water are not available, it’s OK to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.


Clean your hands:

  • Before, during, and after cooking food
  • Before you eat
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After changing diapers or helping a child to use the bathroom After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching your pet or cleaning up after your pet
  • After touching trash
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound or caring for your catheterport or other access device.



Many diseases and conditions are spread by not cleaning your hands.

Cleaning your hands is EXTREMELY important during chemotherapy treatment because your body can’t fight off infections like it used to.





Know the Signs and Symptoms of Infection!



During your chemotherapy treatment, your body may not be able to fight off infections like it used to. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following signs and symptoms of an infection:

  • Fever (this is sometimes the only sign of an infection) Chills and sweats
  • Change in cough or new cough
  • Sore throat or new mouth sore
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nasal congestion
  • Stiff neck
  • Burning or pain with urination Unusual vaginal discharge or irritation Increased urination
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling in any area, including surgical wounds and ports Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • New onset of pain
  • Changes in skin, urination, and mental status


Find out from your doctor when your white blood cell count is likely to be at its lowest since this is when you’re most at risk for infection. This usually occurs between 7 and 12 days after you finish each chemotherapy dose—and will possibly last up to one week.



When your counts are low, you must take even the slightest sign or symptom as serious and call your doctor immediately. Infection during chemotherapy can be very serious and can lead to hospitalization or death.


Click on this sentence to go to the Prevent Cancer Infection site.

There is now (June 2016) much more information on the site. Look for Health Tip Sheets in the menu at the top of the page for written material.
See also:
Edited by Admin
added celsius 2013, updated 2016, updated 2017 with safety at home

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