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Alecensa

Generic Name: alectinib (al EK ti nib)
Brand Names: Alecensa

Medically reviewed on December 5, 2017.

What is Alecensa?

Alecensa (alectinib) is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Alecensa is used to treat a certain type of non-small cell lung cancer caused by an abnormal gene, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

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

Important information

Alecensa can cause serious or life-threatening side effects.

Call your doctor right away if you have: heart problems--severe dizziness, very slow heartbeats; lung problems--fever, chest pain, cough, trouble breathing; kidney problems--a change in your urine color, little or no urination, swelling in your lower legs; or liver problems--upper stomach pain, dark urine, loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Alecensa if you are allergic to alectinib.

To make sure Alecensa is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • lung or breathing problems other than lung cancer;

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease; or

  • slow heartbeats or other heart rhythm disorder.

Do not use Alecensa if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 1 week after your last dose.

If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sexual partner is able to get pregnant. An unborn baby can be harmed if a man fathers the child while he is taking Alecensa. Keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your treatment ends.

Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is taking this medicine.

It is not known whether alectinib passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Alecensa and for at least 1 week after your last dose.

How should I take Alecensa?

Before you start treatment with Alecensa, your doctor will perform a special test to make sure alectinib is the best treatment for your type of lung cancer.

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Alecensa is usually taken twice per day. Alectinib works best if you take it with food.

Do not crush, chew, dissolve, or open an Alecensa capsule. Swallow it whole.

If you vomit shortly after taking a capsule, do not take another one. Wait until your next scheduled dose and take the regular amount of medicine at that time.

While using Alecensa, your heart rate and blood pressure will need to be checked often. You will also need frequent blood tests to check your liver function. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Alecensa dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:

600 mg orally twice a day

Duration of Therapy: Until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity

Comments: This drug should be taken with food.

Use: Treatment of patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have progressed on or are intolerant to crizotinib.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose and take the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not use 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 Alecensa?

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds during treatment and for at least 7 days after your last dose of Alecensa. This medicine can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen and lip balm (SPF 50 or higher) when you are outdoors.

Alecensa side effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • a very slow heart rate;

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

  • unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness;

  • lung problems - sudden chest pain or discomfort, wheezing, dry cough or cough with mucus, feeling short of breath;

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

  • kidney problems - a change in your urine color, little or no urination, swelling in your feet or ankles; or

  • liver problems - stomach pain (upper right side), loss of appetite, easy bruising or bleeding, feeling tired, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • anemia;

  • constipation;

  • swelling in your face, eyelids, hands, or lower legs;

  • tired feeling; or

  • muscle 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 Alecensa?

Other drugs may interact with alectinib, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

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.

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

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