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Generic Name: sunitinib (soo NIT in ib)
Brand Name: Sutent

What is Sutent (sunitinib)?

Sunitinib is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Sunitinib is used to treat certain types of advanced or progressive tumors of the digestive system, the pancreas, or the kidneys.

Sunitinib may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Sutent (sunitinib)?

To be sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood and blood pressure may need to be tested at the beginning of each 4-week treatment cycle. Your heart function may also need to be tested with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) on a regular basis, and you may also need frequent dental exams. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

Slideshow: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using Sutent (sunitinib)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to it.

To make sure you can safely take sunitinib, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • heart disease, high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorder;

  • seizures;

  • a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder;

  • a disorder of your thyroid or adrenal gland;

  • a personal or family history of Long QT syndrome; or

  • a history of stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, a blood clot, or coronary artery disease.

In rare cases, this medicine may cause bone loss (osteonecrosis) in the jaw. Symptoms include jaw pain or numbness, red or swollen gums, loose teeth, or slow healing after dental work.

Osteonecrosis of the jaw may be more likely if you have cancer or received chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other risk factors include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and a pre existing dental problem.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use sunitinib if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether sunitinib passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using sunitinib.

How should I take Sutent (sunitinib)?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Sunitinib is usually taken once per day. Sunitinib is sometimes taken for 4 weeks followed by 2 weeks off the drug. Your doctor will determine how many complete treatment cycles you need based on your condition.

Sunitinib may be taken with or without food.

Do not crush, chew, or open a sunitinib capsule. Swallow it whole. The medicine from a crushed or broken pill can be dangerous if it gets on your skin. If this occurs, wash your skin with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood and blood pressure may need to be tested at the beginning of each 4-week treatment cycle. Your heart function may also need to be tested with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) on a regular basis, and you may also need frequent dental exams. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

If you need surgery or a dental procedure, tell the surgeon or dentist ahead of time that you are using sunitinib. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Sutent (sunitinib)?

This medicine can pass into body fluids (including urine, feces, vomit, semen, vaginal fluid). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Patients and caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

Body fluids should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Use condoms during sexual activity to avoid exposure to body fluids.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with sunitinib and lead to potentially dangerous effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor.

Sutent (sunitinib) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using sunitinib and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • headache with chest pain and severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;

  • feeling short of breath (even with mild exertion), swelling in your ankles or feet;

  • sudden numbness or weakness, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth;

  • slow heart rate, weak pulse, confusion;

  • muscle weakness, tightness, or contraction, overactive reflexes;

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum);

  • lower back pain, blood in your urine;

  • urinating less than usual or not at all;

  • pain and swelling in your stomach, bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • missed menstrual periods;

  • feeling depressed or very tired, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weight gain or loss, hair loss, sweating, increased sensitivity to heat.

  • fever, white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips; or

  • redness, tenderness, sunburn-like peeling of the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.

Common side effects may include:

  • unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth;

  • cough;

  • mild nausea, vomiting, upset stomach;

  • constipation;

  • dry skin, changes in skin or hair color; or

  • joint pain, back pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Sutent (sunitinib)?

Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with sunitinib, especially:

  • dexamethasone;

  • imatinib;

  • isoniazid (for treating tuberculosis);

  • nefazodone;

  • St. John's wort;

  • an antibiotic such as clarithromycin, erythromycin, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine, or telithromycin;

  • antifungal medication such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, or voriconazole;

  • a barbiturate such as phenobarbital, secobarbital, and others;

  • heart or blood pressure medication such as nicardipine or quinidine;

  • HIV/AIDS medicine such as atazanavir, delavirdine, efavirenz, etravirine, fosamprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, saquinavir, or ritonavir;

  • medicines to treat narcolepsy, such as armodafinil or modafinil;

  • medication to treat osteoporosis or Paget's disease of bone, such as alendronate, etidronate, ibandronate, pamidronate, risedronate, tiludronate, or zoledronic acid; or

  • seizure medication such as carbamazepine, felbamate, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, or primidone.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with sunitinib, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about sunitinib.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.02. Revision Date: 2013-07-09, 11:30:00 AM.

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