Steroids, side effects and Docetaxel

I have been taking 4x2mg dextamrthasone steroids once a day in the morning for 3 days after fec.
I have been having palpitations when taking them. Then after coming off them, very bad stomach cramps and loose but not diharea so the nurses said they couldn’t do anything as wasn’t one way or the other. Also had funny small like purple bruises that don’t appear to be bruises but effects from the steroids too.

I had my last fec on friday and have taken only half the dose since then and so far not so bad. Hoping the cramps won’t be after either but at least he palpitations aren’t as bad.
Thing is onc dr wants me to take 4 x4mg tablets twice a day for 24hrs before the docetaxel then the 2 days after. Essentially 4 times the previous dose I already can’t handle. I am worried the effects are going to be worse because a higher dose and how the hell my heart will cope with it? I am wondering if anyone else has had this sensitivity to this drug and their experiences. Also has anyone else had their steroids changed somehow to help stop the docetaxel allergic reactions?

Vicky x

Hi Vicky I have my first T tomorrow and have had 2 doses of 8mg today and will for two more days.  They are used with T to help prevent an allergic reaction.  You need to speak to yr oncologist if you cant take them.  Will put an update on our Dec thread as to how it goes tomorrow Gillian x

Thanks Gillian. I have a meeting with him on Tuesday 9th to discuss it as my head can’t cope with the info over the phone today. I was hoping he could switch them to a different steroid but from what I can gather it doesn’t sound like it. Hoping someone on here can give me hints or tips or something I can go to him with as possible alternatives. Even if it’s other things to help with the steroids side effects.
Vicky x

Wish I could help, going through the exact same SE’s as you! Been freaking me out, I was told the heart palpatations are part of it but only get set off if I’m doing something that gets me out of breath. Due to the fact I’m not exercising anymore this is everything. There have been moments where I’m sitting down and it happens, makes me panic. The sitting down ones happened with my recent fec so will be saying it to my nurse when they phone me.
Have been exercising like mad past few days to hopefully build up my fitness before Friday (final fec) to help prevent palpatations if possible.

Red Robin there was someone on our thread who really really didn’t want the steroids due to SEs, but was told no alternative you have to have them. I have sat next to someone having an allergic reaction to T & let me tell you, you don’t want that.  Crash team ran in, alarms going off, lots of people shouting etc etc.  The only option is to have weeklies & there is just one 2mg dose of steroids given on the day IV with the Pac.  I had no steroid SE at all. General SE of weeklies are also minimal BUT you have to go every week, so a bit of a pain logistically.  You could also ask just to have 6 x FEC, but would be a shame to miss the effectiveness of the T. Good luck. x

Thanks Bibi. I know it is the lesser of two evils but still worried it could affect my heart badly and the crash team come in etc anyway. I can’t believe with all the steroids out there they can’t switch it to another one. These dex ones do such a number on me.
If what you say that there is no others but these I don’t know what to do. ? I am so scared of all this. I have 2 young boys to think about. X

Hi Vicky,

I had awful problems with heart palpitations caused by the steroids (dexamethasone) which seemed worse when I was lying down  (I could really feel the skipping bests in my neck). Because of that for one of my FEC and all of my T treatments my onc halved the usual dose  (so I had 10mg for the T treatments given with the T as we were not given them before chemo as a lot of people seem to be, and then my onc allowed me to take half the usual dose at home so I had 2 mg twice a day for 2 days then 1mg twice a day). I also had an EGG to put my mind at rest about the palpitations which felt terrible but apparently weren’t and because I was fortunately being treated privately I also had my heart checked out by a cardiologist which was all fine. And as soon as chemo finished so did the palpitations thank goodness. The steroid dose seems to be for a worse case scenario of full allergic reaction so there does seem to be leeway for reducing the dose especially if you do not react badly during the previous chemos. 

All the best for your remaining treatments 





Thank you Rachel. Good to know. I think my onc wants me to have the full dose first time but I will discuss it with him next week.
All the info people are talking about on this thread is helping as I have more of an idea of what I want to talk about and ask him.
Vicky x

Hi Red Robin im a week past 1st docetaxel and it has been tough.I had to take 4 steroids twice a day for 3 days so 32 tabs. I started them the day before chemo session. I had shortness of breath and didn’t like how I felt but have a cold as well so a bit unsure as to what causes what. I like you worry about taking steroids but we just do as we’re told. On day 5 after chemo for 5 days I have to take antibiotic and do the injections do you do this as well? To be honest I’ve needed the antibiotics for the side effects of this one.I found the FEC easier by comparison and still am nowhere near right a week on.If you want to ask anything about the docetaxel Vicki I’ll look out for your posts and we’ll support each other through it lol okay.Anne xx.

Thanks Anne. I have the white cell boosting injections for 10 days after. Never been given antibiotics. Just anti sickness and tablets to help with indigestion and acid in the stomach and of course the steroids.
They worry me so much. I am a petite 5ft so worried they are too much for my little body!
How are you sleeping with that much steroids in your system? Are the side effects any worse with a higher dose? 3 days of the full fec dose I had basically wiped me out for 4 days after with bad stomach cramps and then for a week after I couldn’t eat properly as it was like my stomach was intolerant to a lot of foods. That’s without the palpitations while taking them and after for a few days too. Think I am more worried about the steroids than the t as I am trying not to read too much about it as every time I do I scare myself and want to cry. Unfortunately know about the steroids.
Trying to think positive and look for the bright side like Nadz said in our Dec thread at the moment. It’s hard to find.
Vicky xx

I spoke to the nurse at my last chemo session. I also called my onc to discuss it. Got an appointment on Tuesday to discuss things better with him as he called when my head wasn’t with it.
Not sure who best to talk to so thought onc a good idea. I haven’t seen any of the bcn’s at the breast clinic in months. The chemo side and the other bit seem to be really separated at my hospital. Saw them loads through diagnosis and surgery. Actually miss talking to 2 of them in particular who always made me feel better. Never know who I am ‘supposed’ to talk to with it all so separate really.
Vicky x

Waiting to talk to the onc. It is good to re read over this thread so I can gather my thoughts on it. Thanks ladies will let you know the outcome.

Hi Vicky 

I hope the meeting with your onc was productive - was he able to help?

Rachel x

Yeah he listened to what I had to say and all my concerns. He recommended to have a slightly higher dose via IV on the day of chemo and to have a lower dose on the 2 days following, so that overall there will be less steroids in my system over the 3 days. He thinks that may help with the side effects from them and still cover me so I don’t have a full on allergic reaction to the t.
I asked about long term effects on my heart etc and he said that doesn’t usually happen with the quick short bursts of steroids like we have with the chemo but with long term use of steroids.
I feel a bit better about it now. He says that by having the higher dose on the unit at least they can keep an eye on me too.

Hi Vicky, 

That sounds like a sensible plan. I hope that it will make the side effects a lot better for you. Take care. 

Rachel  x

Thank you Rachel x

Reduced steroids on t still have same effect as full fec dose. However think it is probably better than if I was on the tablets higher dose for t. On iv 16mg infusion straight before t then 2mg every morning for 3 days after. Think this is just topping up the higher dose and boy do I have steroid insomnia. Heart palpitations same as fec dose as is stomach. Be glad when the last two are done and it is all out of my system.

I had my first t last Friday. Legs ache but also stomach ache. Is this normal, and has anyone else had it?