The drug paclitaxel, used to treat advanced breast and ovarian cancer, can cause severe circulatory and heart problems.
Doctors at the University of Vienna discovered that three patients they were treating with the drug developed thrombosis. During the same period, a patient being treated in Helsinki died from a heart attack.
While the three patients in Vienna had no previous history of thrombosis, doctors there said they have treated about 1000 patients with paclitaxel without seeing the same side effects.
Although they are not sure the drug caused the thrombosis, they urge all doctors to be aware of the possibility.
The doctors in Helsinki University Central Hospital recommend that paclitaxel treatment should be adapted, depending on the patient’s heart condition (The Lancet, 19 March 1994).