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Capecitabine is used alone or in combination with other drugs in the treatment of following cancers: stomach (gastric), colon, colorectal cancers, and advanced breast cancer. It is also used in prevention of recurrence after complete removal of tumor by surgery in colon cancer.
How it works
Capecitabine belongs to a class of medication called cytostatic agents which is an antineoplastic/ anticancer prodrug (gets converted into an active substance once into the body). Capecitabine, after being absorbed by the body changes into an active anticancer agent which is more active in the tumor tissue cells than in the normal cells, and thus, stops the growth of cancer cells and slows down the spread of cancer in the body.
Common side effects
bleeding from gut; red or itchy or dry or discoloured skin, chest or back; shortness of breath or dry, skin inflammation, indigestion, nausea, loss of hair, cold sores or other herpes infection ., dehydration, nail disorder, skin loss, bleeding nose, decrease of red and white blood cells in blood, depression, dryness or irritation in eyes, constipation, excess wind, loss of appetite, tingling sensation on skin; change in taste or dry mouth, limbs, diarrhea, Tiredness, fever and swelling in joints; pain in joints, increased bilirubin level; inflammation of vein, lack of sleep, dizziness, runny, infection in lungs or bronchitis; problems with liver function, loss of weight, pain in stomach, headache
- 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
Q. Is capecitabine safe during pregnancy?
Capecitabine may harm the baby. It should only be given if there is no other alternative drug. Please follow your doctor’s advice regarding its use.
Q. Is it safe to use capecitabine during breastfeeding?
Capecitabine is not safe during breast feeding. It should only be used if no other alternative drug is available. Please follow your doctor’s advice regarding its use.
Q. 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.
Q. Is capecitabine an anthracycline?
No, capecitabine is not an anthracycline.
Q. Is capecitabine cytotoxic? How is it administered?
No. Capecitabine is a cytostatic (stops the growth of cells) agent. It is administered as a tablet.
Q. Where is capecitabine absorbed? How is it metabolized?
Capecitabine is quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. It is metabolized in the liver and tumor tissue.
Q. How quickly does capecitabine work? How long does it stay in the system?
Capecitabine works based on intensity and severity of cancer. Please ask the doctor how quickly it will work. Capecitabine and its metabolites stay in the system about two hours on an average.
Q. 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.