What Capecitabine is and what it is used for?
- Capcitabine is classified as an anticancer antimetabolites. This medicine inhibits thymidylate synthase that is essential for the formation of DNA and RNA. This stops the growth of cancer cells, causing the cancer cells to die.
- Capecitabine can be given alone or in combination with other medicines to treat colon or rectal cancer and breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It also may be used to treat other cancers, as determined by your doctor.
How to take Capecitabine?
- Capecitabine is given as tablets. The pharmacist will give you the tablets to take home with you. Take your drugs exactly as you are instructed. Take the tablets whole with a glass of water within half an hour after the morning and evening meal.
- If you have difficulty swallowing tablets, you can dissolve the tablets in 200ml of water. Stir with a spoon until tablets are completely dissolved, and then drink it immediately. The container and spoon should be washed thoroughly.
What should I know during Capecitabine treatment?
- Tips for proper medicine storage
- Keep tablets in their original packaging at room temperature, away from heat or direct sunlight.
- Keep tablets safe and out of the reach of children.
- Return any unused tablets to the hospital if your treatment is stopped.
- If you forget to take the medicine, skip the missed dose but continue with the following dose. Do not take a double dose. Keep to your regular schedule and let your doctor know.
- Do not take this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 3 and 6 months after the last dose.
- Capcitabine may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- You will have regular blood tests to check that you have enough blood cells and have sufficient liver and kidney functions to receive capecitabine.The dose of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or other side effects.
- Your skin may more sensitive to sunlight and may burn more easily during treatment. You should stay out of the sun. If you must go out in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of capcitabine. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially heart diseases, liver or kidney problems, or you are allergic to fluorouracil.
Common side effects
- Low red blood cell count
You may look pale and get tired more easily. Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty breathing or dizziness when changing positions.
- Weakness and fatigue
Try to pace yourself and rest as much as possible. Seek medical advice if fatigue does not go away when you rest and sleep.
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve diarrhea.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
- Mouth sore
Medicines may be given to help you feel better. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
- Hand-foot syndrome
Your may have redness, swelling, and pain on the palms of hands and the soles of feet. Sometimes peeling skin or blisters may occur. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms. To relieve the symptoms of hand-foot syndrome, you can use ice packs to cool your hands and feet for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Avoid long exposure of hands and feet to hot water and activities that cause rubbing or pressure on your skin. Try to keep your hands and feet moist by using emollients. Symptoms usually go away in 7 to 10 days after treatment is stopped.
- Skin rash
A rash can be itchy, red, or painful. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have, they can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
- Swelling of lower legs or hands
Tell your doctor if your hands, arms, legs, or feet feel puffy or tender. The doctor may give medicines to reduce your symptoms and suggest ways to prevent fluid buildup.
Less common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Low platelet count
You may have a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor know if you find red or purple dots on the skin, bleeding from the nose or gums, or any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite doesn't get any better after a few days, talk to your doctor.
- Changes in liver function
This is usually mild and the functions may return to normal after treatment ends. Seek medical help at once if you have yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark or brown urine, or pain in abdomen.
- Many drugs may interact with capecitabine. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- You should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarettes during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.