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Capecitabine is used in the treatment of ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer., breast cancer, non-hodgkin lymphoma (nhl), blood cancer, lung cancer, bone cancer and urinary bladder cancer.

How it works

Capecitabine interferes with the growth of DNA and RNA of the cancer cells by substituting their building blocks. It prevents the cancer cells from growing and multiplying.

Common side effects

Nausea, Vomiting, Weakness, Abdominal pain, Loss of appetite, Fatigue, Diarrhoea, Hand-foot syndrome, Stomatitis (Inflammation of the mouth)

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Expert advice

  • Capecitabine should be taken with water within half an hour of taking a meal.
  • Inform your doctor if you are suffering from high or low levels of calcium, cardiac toxicity problems or hand and foot syndrome.
  • Inform your doctor if you have a history of diabetes, nervous system disorders or are taking medication for blood thinning.
  • Inform your doctor if you are taking any medications for gout (allopurinol), fits (phenytoin), or cancer (folinic acid, oxaliplatin, bevacizumab).
  • Capecitabine may cause dizziness or nausea and so it is recommended not to drive or use heavy machinery immediately after taking it.
  • Treatment with capecitabine need to be permanently discontinued in patients who experience a severe skin reaction.
  • Women who are planning to become pregnant should use two methods of contraception while on this therapy and thereafter as recommended by the doctor. 
  • Men who are going to use this therapy should not father a child while on this therapy and thereafter as recommended by the doctor. They should also seek guidance and counselling on sperm conservation before taking this therapy.

Frequently asked questions



Is capecitabine a generic/ effective/ FDA approved?
Yes, capecitabine is a generic. It is approved by the FDA. It is effective when taken for a condition at a dose for the duration prescribed by the doctor


Is capecitabine an anthracycline?
No, capecitabine is not an anthracycline


Is capecitabine cytotoxic?
No. Capecitabine is a cytostatic (stops the growth of cells) agent

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How is it administered?
It is administered as a tablet


Where is capecitabine absorbed?
Capecitabine is quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract


How is it metabolized?
It is metabolized in the liver and tumor tissue


How quickly does capecitabine work?
Capecitabine works based on intensity and severity of cancer. Please ask the doctor how quickly it will work


How long does it stay in the system?
Capecitabine and its metabolites stay in the system about two hours on an average


Does capecitabine cause hair loss/ tiredness/ diarrhea or affect skin?
Capecitabine is known to have side effects like hair loss/ tiredness/ diarrhea and affects skin. Please inform the doctor about any side effects that you observe while on therapy.

Content on this page was last updated on 07 March, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)