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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Crizotinib (Xalkori®)


Brand Name: Xalkori®

Crizotinib is used in the treatment of certain types of lung cancer.

Crizotinib is a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Kinases are enzymes that are involved in many functions, including cell growth and reproduction. Crizotinib blocks the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and also the c-MET/hepatocyte growth factor receptor. This action disrupts certain pathways in the cell, which can prevent the growth of tumor cells. Crizotinib is made especially for the treatment of a type of lung cancer in which ALK is overactive due to an abnormality in the ALK gene.

This medication is given as a hard gelatin capsule taken by mouth. Usually, crizotinib is taken twice daily. Capsules can be taken with or without food, and should be swallowed whole (not crushed, chewed, or split). The duration of treatment depends on several factors, including how well the cancer is responding to the drug. Your doctor will determine the approach that is best for you.

Crizotinib side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between crizotinib 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 liver tumor, liver disease, kidney disease, a heart rhythm disorder, a personal or family history of Long QT syndrome, or an electrolyte imbalance. Crizotinib should not be taken if you are pregnant. Be sure to inform your doctor if you are pregnant before beginning treatment, or if you become pregnant during treatment. Women should not breastfeed while taking crizotinib.

Possible side effects of crizotinib may include:

  • Mild dizziness
  • Tired feeling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mild rash or itching
  • Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Swelling in hands or feet

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

  • Severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Vision problems (blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, seeing flashes of light)
  • Chest pain, dry cough, or cough with mucus
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual or easy bruising or bleeding
  • Purple or red pinpoint spots under the skin
  • Fever, chills, aches, or other flu-like symptoms
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

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 crizotinib with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Crizotinib for cancer treatment

Crizotinib is approved by the FDA for the following:

  • Treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to areas near the lungs or to other areas of the body, in patients with chromosomal changes affecting the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (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.