Julie R. Gralow, MD

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Myalgias and Arthralgias Associated With Paclitaxel

February 1st 2003

Paclitaxel-induced myalgias and arthralgias occur in a significantfraction of patients receiving therapy with this taxane, potentiallyimpairing physical function and quality of life. Paclitaxel-inducedmyalgias and arthralgias are related to individual doses; associationswith the cumulative dose and infusion duration are less clear. Identificationof risk factors for myalgias and arthralgias could distinguisha group of patients at greater risk, leading to minimization of myalgiasand arthralgias through the use of preventive therapies. Optimalpharmacologic treatment and possibilities for the prevention of myalgiasand arthralgias associated with paclitaxel are unclear, partially dueto the small number of patients treated with any one medication. Theeffectiveness of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is themost frequently documented pharmacologic intervention, although noclear choice exists for patients who fail to respond to NSAIDs. However,the increasing use of weekly paclitaxel could necessitate daily administrationof NSAIDs for myalgias and arthralgias and leave patients at riskfor adverse effects. This concern may also limit the use of corticosteroidsfor the prevention and treatment of paclitaxel-induced myalgias andarthralgias. Data from case reports suggest that gabapentin (Neurontin),glutamine, and, potentially, antihistamines (eg, fexofenadine [Allegra])could be used to treat and/or prevent myalgias and arthralgias. Giventhe safety profile of these medications, considerable enthusiasm existsfor evaluating their effectiveness in the prevention and treatment ofpaclitaxel myalgias and arthralgias, particularly in the setting ofweekly paclitaxel administration.