Breast Cancer Home > Abraxane Uses

Abraxane uses include the treatment of certain types of lung, breast, and pancreatic cancer. Healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend the medication for treating other types of cancer. "Off-label" Abraxane uses may include the treatment of head and neck cancer, bladder cancer, and ovarian cancer.

What Is Abraxane Used For?

Abraxane® (protein-bound paclitaxel) is a prescription medication used to treat breast cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. It is part of a group of medications called taxanes. Specifically, Abraxane is approved in the following situations:
 
  • For metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body) that has failed to respond to other chemotherapy medications.
     
  • For breast cancer that has returned within six months of adjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery).
 
  • In combination with carboplatin to treat inoperable non-small cell lung cancer that has spread, either to the surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body, in cases when radiation is not an option.
  • In combination with gemcitabine to treat metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.
 

How Does Abraxane Work?

Abraxane is part of a group of medications called taxanes. Taxanes stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying by interfering with certain structures in the cell.
 
While Abraxane can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by Abraxane.
 
Abraxane is a new form of paclitaxel. Paclitaxel does not dissolve well and requires solvents in order to be dissolved and injected. These solvents can cause irritation and allergic reactions. Abraxane is a new form of paclitaxel that is bound to albumin (a protein normally found in the body). Paclitaxel that is bound to albumin dissolves more easily, and solvents are not needed, making Abraxane much less irritating (and can be injected more quickly) than solvent-based paclitaxel.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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