Capecitabine is used to treat breast or colorectal cancer and colon cancer that has already spread to other parts of the body. This medication slows and stops the development of the cancer cells. This is also used together with other medications to treat metastatic breast cancer.
Capecitabine is a cytotoxic medicine, a kind of medicine that kills cells that are multiplying like cancer cells. It belongs to the group of medications which is called anti-metabolites. This medication is supplied as film-coated for oral administration. This has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
How does Capecitabine work?
Capecitabine is a prodrug that is converted to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in the body. But it is more converted in tumor cells than in normal tissues. It is taken as tablets, while 5-FU normally needs to be injected. 5-FU is an analog of pyrimidine. Pyrimidine is part of the genetic material of cells (DNA and RNA). In the body, 5-FU takes the place of pyrimidine and interferes with the enzymes involved in making new DNA. As a result, it inhibits the growth of tumor cells and eventually kills them.
How to use Capecitabine?
Capecitabine is available in two different tablet strengths: 150mg and 500mg. Your doctor will tell you how many of each tablet you will take to make sure you get the right amount each day for your body size.
You will usually take the twice a day, in the morning and evening for 14 days. You will also have a seven-day break from taking the medicines. This 21-day period is one treatment cycle. If you are prescribed Capecitabine differently from the 21-day cycle your doctor will explain it. Swallow the tablet as a whole with a glass of water within half an hour of eating a meal.
This medication should be used regularly for the best benefit. Do not increase the prescribed dosage. Doing so, your condition will not improve faster or your risk of side effects will increase.
What are the side-effects of Capecitabine?
- Stomach pain or upset
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Back/joint/muscle pain
If these side effects persist or get worse, call your doctor right away.
What are the precautions in taking Capecitabine?
- This drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs which may harm an unborn baby. Women who are pregnant should not take or handle this medication. If you are a breastfeeding women, consult your doctor first before taking a dose of this drug.
- Let your doctor know if you have any medical history or current treatments, medications, or surgeries.
- Tell your doctor if you are allergic to it or other containing ingredients of this drug. This may have an ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. If you have any signs of an allergic reaction, call for emergency medical help right away.
- You should not share this with others with the same symptoms as yours.
- This drug may make you drowsy or dizzy. For this reason, you should not drive or operate any machinery.