Taxanes are one of the newer agents of cytotoxic therapies.

Mechanism of Action

They also act on microtubules, but stabilise rather than degenerate them. This causes problems with centrosome action during mitosis and may cause arrest at the metaphase-anaphase checkpoint.

Interaction with Radiotherapy

Taxanes may cause accumulation in G2/M phase, the most sensitive part of the cell cycle, due to their effects on the microtubules. This makes cells more sensitive. They can also cause significant shrinkage of tumour size and reoxygenation.

Side Effects

Myelosuppression and alopecia are extremely common. Other effects may occur (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea) but are less troubling.


Taxanes are predominately used in high risk breast cancer but their use in other malignancies is evolving.