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Looking for information on Xeloda (Capecitabine)? In this blog we will answer all of the most commonly asked questions.
What is Capecitabine?
Capecitabine, which is simply the generic name for Xeloda, is an oral chemotherapy medication used in the treatment of various types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, and gastric cancers. It is classified as an antimetabolite, specifically a fluoropyrimidine.
Capecitabine is a prodrug, meaning it is converted into its active form, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), by enzymes in the body. 5-FU is a cytotoxic agent that interferes with the synthesis of DNA and RNA in cancer cells, ultimately leading to their destruction. The advantage of capecitabine is that it is a prodrug, allowing for oral administration, which can be more convenient for patients compared to intravenous chemotherapy.
When is Capecitabine prescribed?
Your doctor will determine if the time is right for you. However, Capecitabine is commonly used as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer and as adjuvant therapy for colorectal and breast cancers. It may also be used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy, depending on the specific type and stage of cancer being treated.
It is important for patients to be closely monitored by their healthcare team while taking Capecitabine to manage side effects and ensure the drug is working effectively. Dosage and treatment duration may vary depending on the individual and the type of cancer being treated. It is essential to follow the prescribed regimen and communicate any concerns or adverse effects experienced during treatment with a healthcare professional.
What are the side effects of Capecitabine?
Capecitabine, like many chemotherapy drugs, can cause side effects. These side effects can vary in severity and can affect different individuals differently. Common side effects of capecitabine include:
- Gastrointestinal Effects: Diarrhea is a common Capecitabine side effect, and it can sometimes be severe. Other gastrointestinal effects may include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, indigestion, and loss of appetite.
- Hand-Foot Syndrome: This is a distinctive side effect of capecitabine. It causes redness, swelling, pain, and peeling of the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. In severe cases, blisters and ulcers can develop.
- Fatigue: Many people experience fatigue or tiredness while undergoing capecitabine treatment. This can range from mild to severe and may interfere with daily activities.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Another Capecitabine side effect can be nausea sometimes accompanied with vomiting, although it is usually less severe than with some other chemotherapy drugs.
- Skin Reactions: Some individuals may experience skin reactions such as rash, dryness, itching, and increased sensitivity to sunlight. It is essential to protect the skin from excessive sun exposure and use sunscreen while taking capecitabine.
- Hematological Effects: Capecitabine can temporarily suppress the bone marrow, leading to a decrease in blood cell counts. This can result in an increased risk of infections, easy bruising or bleeding, and fatigue.
- Liver Problems: Rarely, capecitabine can cause liver problems, including liver inflammation and elevated liver enzymes.
- Neurological Effects: Some individuals may experience numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, known as peripheral neuropathy. This Capecitabine side effect is usually mild but can occasionally be more severe.
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and the severity and duration can vary. It’s crucial to discuss any side effects with your healthcare team, as they can provide guidance and support to manage and alleviate these symptoms.
What should I avoid while taking Capecitabine?
While taking Capecitabine, it is important to be aware of certain precautions and lifestyle considerations to ensure your safety and optimize the effectiveness of the medication. Here are some things to avoid or be cautious about while taking capecitabine:
- Grapefruit and grapefruit juice: Avoid consuming grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice as it can interfere with the metabolism of capecitabine and potentially increase its concentration in the body.
- Alcohol: It is generally recommended to limit or avoid alcohol consumption during chemotherapy treatment. Alcohol can interact with capecitabine and increase the risk of liver toxicity. When in doubt, avoiding alcohol is always the safest and healthiest thing you can do.
- Certain medications: Inform your healthcare provider and pharmacy about all the medications you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter drugs, and any herbal supplements or vitamins. The safest thing you can do to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions is to keep all of your prescriptions at one pharmacy. This will ensure multiple levels of checks for interactions. Some medications may interact with Xeloda or Capecitabine, affecting its effectiveness or increasing the risk of side effects. Your healthcare provider can provide guidance on specific medications to avoid or adjust.
- Sun exposure: Capecitabine can increase sensitivity to sunlight. It is advisable to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure by wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF), and avoiding prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours.
- Vaccinations: Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccinations while taking capecitabine. Some vaccines may be contraindicated or require special considerations during chemotherapy treatment. It is generally recommended to complete any necessary vaccinations before starting chemotherapy.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Capecitabine can harm the developing fetus, so it is important to avoid becoming pregnant or fathering a child while taking this medication. If you are a woman of childbearing potential, using effective contraception is crucial. Capecitabine should not be used during breastfeeding, as it may pass into breast milk and harm the nursing infant.
What if there is a Xeloda or Capecitabine shortage?
It may seem as if many medications have experienced supply issues in recent months, especially since the onset of the Pandemic in 2020. While this has been difficult for many healthcare providers and pharmacies to keep up with and we here at QuickRx can’t control the supply chain; What we can control is how we prepare and respond to a Capecitabine shortage or any other medication shortage. Our team at QuickRx works daily to stay on top of industry trends that can often predict an upcoming drug shortage- and we respond accordingly whenever possible to stock extra while it’s available.
Again, sometimes things happen in the supply chain and we may not be able to get extra stock of a medication before a shortage. However, we do what we can as much as we can. Our patients are our number one priority. Always. Where other pharmacy chains in this situation might take into account medication cost plus pharmacy effort, we will do what it takes to take care of you.
Are there many Capecitabine success stories?
While we have seen patients have success with Xeloda and Capecitabine, HIPAA laws prevent us from sharing any of those details. However, we have found an excellent resource from others around the country who have voluntarily shared their Capecitabine success stories.
Still need more information on Xeloda or Capecitabine?
If you have any further questions consult one of our pharmacists or your healthcare provider for specific instructions and advice regarding Xeloda (Capecitabine). They will provide you with comprehensive information on precautions, interactions, and lifestyle considerations based on your individual medical history and treatment plan.