Aims Fluid retention is a phenomenon associated with taxoids. The principal objective of this study was to investigate the pathophysiological mechanism of docetaxel-induced fluid retention in advanced cancer patients.
Methods Docetaxel was administered as a 1 h intravenous infusion every 3 weeks, for at least 4–6 consecutive cycles, to patients with advanced breast (n=21) or ovarian (n=3) carcinoma, who had received previous chemotherapy, 21 for advanced disease. Phase II clinical trials have shown that 5 day corticosteroid comedication, starting 1 day before docetaxel infusion, significantly reduces the incidence and severity of fluid retention. This prophylactic corticosteroid regimen is currently recommended for patients receiving docetaxel but was not permitted in this study because of its possible interference with the underlying pathophysiology of the fluid retention.
Results Fluid retention occurred in 21 of the 24 patients but was mainly mild to moderate, with only five patients experiencing severe fluid retention. Eighteen patients received symptomatic flavonoid treatment, commonly prescribed after the last cycle. Specific investigations for fluid retention confirmed a relationship between cumulative docetaxel dose and development of fluid retention. Capillary filtration test analysis showed a two-step process for fluid retention generation, with progressive congestion of the interstitial space by proteins and water starting between the second and the fourth cycle, followed by insufficient lymphatic drainage.
Conclusions A vascular protector such as micronized diosmine hesperidine with recommended corticosteroid premedication and benzopyrones may be useful in preventing and treating docetaxel-induced fluid retention.