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Abiraterone

Generic name: abiraterone acetate (A bir A te rone)
Brand name: Yonsa, Zytiga
Dosage forms: oral tablet (125 mg; 250 mg; 500 mg)
Drug class: Miscellaneous antineoplastics

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Oct 3, 2021.

What is abiraterone?

Abiraterone works by reducing androgen production in the body. Androgens are male hormones that can promote tumor growth in the prostate gland.

Abiraterone is used together with steroid medication (prednisone or methylprednisolone) to treat prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. abiraterone is used in men whose prostate cancer cannot be treated with surgery or other medicines.

It is not known if abiraterone acetate tablets are safe or effective in females or children.

Warnings

Abiraterone tablets should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. This medicine can harm an unborn baby or cause miscarriage.

You should not use abiraterone if you are allergic to it.

Before taking this medicine

Abiraterone is not for use by women or children.

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Abiraterone can harm an unborn baby if a woman is exposed to it during pregnancy. An abiraterone tablet should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant. The medicine from a broken tablet could be absorbed through the skin.

Abiraterone can also harm an unborn baby if the father is taking this medicine at the time of conception or during pregnancy.

Use effective birth control if your sex partner is pregnant or able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 3 weeks after your last dose.

How should I take abiraterone?

Take abiraterone exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets.

Abiraterone is usually taken once per day while also taking a steroid 1 or 2 times per day. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Your abiraterone dose needs may change if you switch to a different brand, strength, or form of this medicine. Avoid medication errors by using only the medicine your doctor prescribes.

Your prednisone or methylprednisolone dose needs may change if you have an infection or are under stress. Do not change your dose or stop using your steroid medicine without your doctor's advice.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water.

You may take Yonsa with or without food.

Take Zytiga on an empty stomach. Do not eat anything for at least 2 hours before or 1 hour after you take Zytiga.

Swallow the tablet whole and do not crush, chew, or break it.

Your blood pressure will need to be checked often, and you may need frequent blood tests. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar should be checked carefully, especially if you take pioglitazone or repaglinide.

You should not stop using abiraterone or your steroid medicine suddenly. Follow your doctor's instructions about tapering your prednisone dose.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Prostate Cancer:

Metastatic CRPC:
-Regular formulation: 1000 mg orally once daily (in combination with methylprednisolone 5 mg orally 2 times daily)
-Micronized formulation: 500 mg orally once daily (in combination with methylprednisolone 4 mg orally 2 times daily)

Metastatic high-risk CSPC:
-Regular formulation: 1000 mg orally once daily (in combination with methylprednisolone 5 mg orally once daily)
-Micronized formulation: 500 mg orally once daily (in combination with methylprednisolone 4 mg orally 2 times a day)

Comments:
-Patients receiving this drug should also receive a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analog concurrently or should have had bilateral orchiectomy.
NOTE: Different abiraterone acetate formulations have different indications and different dosing. Below are suggested dosing guidelines. Refer to the manufacturer product information before prescribing this drug.

Uses:
In combination with prednisone for the treatment of patients with:
-Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC)
-Metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer (CSPC)

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose and take the medicine the following day. Do not take two doses at one time.

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss more than one dose of abiraterone.

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 abiraterone?

Do not eat food for at least 2 hours before you take Zytiga and for at least 1 hour after your dose. Food can increase the amount of Zytiga your body absorbs and may cause side effects.

Avoid taking an herbal supplement containing St. John's wort.

Abiraterone side effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • swelling in your ankles or feet, pain in your legs;

  • fast or irregular heartbeats;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears;

  • pain or burning when you urinate;

  • low red blood cells (anemia) - pale skin, tiredness, feeling light-headed or short of breath, cold hands and feet;

  • low blood potassium - leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, increased thirst or urination, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness or limp feeling;

  • liver problems - stomach pain (upper right side), nausea, vomiting, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • low blood sugar - headache, hunger, sweating, irritability, dizziness, fast heart rate, and feeling anxious or shaky.

Common abiraterone side effects may include:

  • feeling very weak or tired;

  • feeling very hot;

  • high blood sugar;

  • increased blood pressure;

  • swelling in your legs or feet;

  • anemia, low blood potassium;

  • painful urination;

  • abnormal liver function tests or other blood tests;

  • joint pain or swelling;

  • headache;

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; or

  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat.

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.

What other drugs will affect abiraterone?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines. Many drugs can interact with abiraterone, especially:

  • other prostate cancer medicines, especially radium Ra 223 (may increase your risk of fractures while you are taking abiraterone); or

  • pioglitazone or repaglinide to treat diabetes (may cause severe low blood sugar hypoglycemia while you are taking abiraterone.

This list is not complete and many other drugs may affect abiraterone. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Popular FAQ

Zytiga is taken with prednisone to help manage side effects that might occur with this prostate cancer treatment. Zytiga blocks the production of cortisol from your adrenal glands. Prednisone helps to replace the lost cortisol that can cause side effects such as low blood potassium levels, fluid build up (edema), or high blood pressure. Continue reading

Abiraterone works by blocking the effects of an enzyme (called CYP17) that is found in testicular, adrenal, and prostate tumor tissue that is necessary for the production of testosterone and other androgens. By blocking this enzyme, abiraterone reduces the production of testosterone and other androgens which stimulate prostate cancer cells to grow. Abiraterone inhibits androgen at 3 sources—the testes, the adrenal glands, AND the tumor itself. Continue reading

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use abiraterone only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.