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    Capecitabine

    Information about Capecitabine

    Capecitabine uses

    Capecitabine is used in the treatment of cancer of colon and rectum and breast cancer.

    How capecitabine works

    Capecitabine is an anticancer medication. Inside the body, this medicine gets converted into 5-fluorouracil (chemical). This chemical hampers the synthesis of genetic materials (RNA and DNA) in the cancer cells, thereby interferes with their growth. This slows down the growth of cancer cells and eventually kills them.

    Common side effects of capecitabine

    Nausea, Vomiting, Weakness, Abdominal pain, Diarrhea, Increased bilirubin in the blood, Blisters on fingers / feet
    Content Details
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    Written By
    Dr. Anuj Saini
    MMST, MBBS
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    Reviewed By
    Dr. Ashish Ranjan
    MD (Pharmacology), MBBS
    Last updated on:
    16 Oct 2019 | 01:30 PM (IST)
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    Available Medicine for Capecitabine

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    Expert advice for Capecitabine

    • Capecitabine is used alone or in combination with other medicines for the treatment of colon, rectum or breast cancers.
    • It is oral chemotherapy, hence it is preferred by many patients.
    • It should be taken within 30 minutes after eating a meal.
    • The dose and the number of treatment cycles needed will depend on the type and stage of cancer that is being treated.
    • It may cause dizziness and tiredness. Don't drive or do anything requiring concentration until you know how it affects you.
    • Use a reliable contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy while you are taking this medicine.
    • Frequency of hair loss is much less compared to other chemotherapy drugs.
    • Do not take it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
    • Your doctor may regularly monitor your blood cells during treatment with this medicine. Inform your doctor immediately if you notice signs of infection such as fever, sore throat, rash or severe diarrhea.
    • Inform your doctor immediately if you notice any signs of infection such as fever, sore throat, rash or severe diarrhea.
    • Inform your doctor immediately if you start to have side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, mouth sores, chest pain or loss of appetite.

    Frequently asked questions for Capecitabine

    Capecitabine

    Q. Do I need to use birth control method while using Capecitabine?

    Yes, birth control methods are a must while using Capecitabine, as this medicine may harm your unborn child. Females should continue using these methods for 6 months after the final dose. On the other hand, men using these medicines whose partners can become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment and for 3 months after the final dose.

    Q. How long do I need to take Capecitabine?

    The duration of treatment with Capecitabine depends on the nature of your illness and individual response to treatment. Usually, it is given as a series of treatment cycles, each of these cycles lasts for 21 days. Capecitabine is given for 14 days followed by a rest period of 7 days. You should continue taking this medicine for the time prescribed by the doctor.

    Q. What are the side effects of Capecitabine?

    The side effects of Capecitabine include stomach pain or upset stomach, constipation, loss of appetite, and change in ability to taste food. It may also cause increased thirst, unusual tiredness or weakness, dizziness, headache, hair loss, skin rash, back, join, or muscle pain. You may also experience red, swollen, itchy, or teary eyes and trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Inform your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe and persist for long.

    Q. Does Capecitabine make you tired?

    Yes, Capecitabine may make you tired and you may also feel weak, as these are the most common side effects of the medicine. Hence, it is possible that use of Capecitabine may affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

    Q. What is the most important information that I should know about Capecitabine?

    It is important to know that Capecitabine can interfere with working of blood thinners like warfarin. This type of interference can cause a change in the rate of clot formation and can cause bleeding that can even lead to death. The risk is higher for cancer patients, especially those who are over 60 years of age. Seek immediate medical help if you experience symptoms like unusual bleeding, vomiting or spitting up blood or brown material that resembles coffee grounds, bloody or black, tarry stools, blood in urine, red or dark-brown urine, or easy bruising.

    Q. What kind of drug is Capecitabine?

    Capecitabine is an anti-cancer (antineoplastic or cytotoxic) chemotherapy drug. Capecitabine is classified as an "antimetabolite." Capecitabine itself is not a cytostatic medicine; it gets converted into an active anti-cancer medicine (more in tumour tissue than in normal tissue) only after getting absorbed by the body.

    Q. Do I need to get any tests done while on Capecitabine?

    The doctor will check you on a regular basis while you are taking Capecitabine to monitor side effects and your response to therapy. You may need to get your blood test done as advised by the doctor to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of kidneys and liver.

    Q. What are the serious side effects of Capecitabine?

    The use of Capecitabine may cause various serious side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sores in the mouth, swelling, pain, redness, or peeling of skin on the palms and soles of the feet. One may also experience fever, chills, sore throat, or other signs of an infection, swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, chest pain or pressure, fast heartbeat, dark urine and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Inform your doctor immediately if you experience any such symptoms.

    Content on this page was last updated on 16 October, 2019, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)