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Capecitabine (Xeloda®)


Brand Name: Xeloda®

Capecitabine is used to treat breast cancer and colorectal cancer. More specifically, capecitabine is used to treat breast cancer that has recurred after other prior treatments. It is also used to treat breast cancer that has not improved with other treatments. Additionally, it is used to treat colorectal cancer that has worsened or spread to other parts of the body, and to prevent spreading after surgical removal of a tumor.

Capecitabine is an antimetabolite. A chemotherapy drug, this medication stops or slows the growth of cancer cells. Antimetabolites are chemicals that closely resemble substances within normal cells. When cancer cells absorb an antimetabolite, they cannot divide, and are unable to survive.

This medication comes as a tablet and is taken by mouth. Most commonly, capecitabine is taken twice daily for 2 weeks, followed by a one-week break before the next 2-week cycle. It is usually taken with water, within 30 minutes after a meal. Tablets should not be crushed, dissolved, or chewed.

Capecitabine side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between capecitabine and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had a liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. Capecitabine should not be taken during breastfeeding.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in ability to taste food
  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Hair loss
  • Rash
  • Back, joint, or muscle pain
  • Red, swollen, itchy, or teary eyes
  • Difficulty sleeping

Some of capecitabine’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mouth sores
  • Swelling, pain, redness or peeling of the skin on palms and soles of feet
  • Sore throat, fever, chills, or other signs of infection
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Dark urine

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of capecitabine with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Capecitabine for cancer treatment

Capecitabine is approved by the FDA for the following cancer treatments:

  • In combination with docetaxel for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer that has progressed after prior treatment with anthraycline-containing chemotherapy
  • As a single agent for the treatment of patients with breast cancer that is resistant to both paclitaxel and an anthracycline-containing chemotherapy regimen. Single-agent capecitabine may also be used to treat patients with metastatic breast cancer that is resistant to paclitaxel and for whom additional anthracycline therapy is not indicated
  • As a single agent for the adjuvant (postsurgical) treatment of patients with Dukes’ C colon cancer who have undergone complete surgical removal of the primary tumor when treatment with fluoropyrimidine therapy alone is preferred
  • As a single agent for the initial treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal carcinoma when treatment with fluoropyrimidine therapy alone is preferred

At CTCA, our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.

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