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Capecitabine

Generic Name: capecitabine (KAP e SYE ta been)
Brand Name: Xeloda
Dosage Forms: oral tablet (150 mg; 500 mg)

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Dec 3, 2020. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is capecitabine?

Capecitabine is used to treat breast or colorectal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Capecitabine is often used in combination with other cancer drugs.

Capecitabine is sometimes given after other treatments have failed.

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

Warnings

You should not take capecitabine if you have severe kidney disease.

If you take a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven), you may need to have more frequent "INR" or prothrombin time tests. Taking a blood thinner can increase your risk of severe bleeding while you are using capecitabine, and for a short time after you stop taking capecitabine. This risk is higher in adults older than 60.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take capecitabine if you are allergic to capecitabine or fluorouracil (Adrucil), or if you have:

  • severe kidney disease.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • a metabolic disorder called DPD (dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase) deficiency;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • heart problems; or

  • if you take a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven).

Capecitabine can harm an unborn baby if the mother or the father is using this medicine.

  • If you are a woman, do not use capecitabine if you are pregnant. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.

  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your last dose.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using capecitabine.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because capecitabine can harm an unborn baby.

Do not breastfeed while using this medicine, and for at least 2 weeks after your last dose.

How should I take capecitabine?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Capecitabine is usually taken twice per day, and may be only part of a treatment program that may also include other medications taken on different schedules. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Take with food or within 30 minutes after eating a meal.

Swallow the tablet whole with water and do not crush, chew, or break it. Tell your doctor if you have trouble swallowing the tablet whole.

Capecitabine is given in a 3-week treatment cycle, and you may only need to take the medicine during the first 2 weeks of each cycle. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with capecitabine.

Call your doctor if you are sick with vomiting or diarrhea, or if you are sweating more than usual. You can easily become dehydrated while taking capecitabine. This can lead to very low blood pressure, a serious electrolyte imbalance, or kidney failure.

If you have diarrhea, ask your doctor about what medicines you can take to treat your diarrhea.

You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results. Capecitabine can have long lasting effects on your body. You may also need medical tests for a short time after your last dose.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

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 capecitabine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Capecitabine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).

Diarrhea may occur and could be severe. Stop taking capecitabine and tell your doctor right away if the number of bowel movements you usually have per day increases by 4 or more, or if you have bowel movements at night.

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

  • severe diarrhea;

  • bloody diarrhea with severe stomach pain and fever;

  • severe nausea or loss of appetite that causes you to eat much less than usual;

  • vomiting (more than once in 24 hours);

  • fever above 100.5 degrees;

  • sores or ulcers in your mouth, redness or swelling of your mouth or tongue, trouble eating or swallowing;

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • dehydration symptoms--feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, or hot and dry skin;

  • "hand and foot syndrome"--pain, tenderness, redness, swelling, blistering, or peeling skin on your hands or feet;

  • heart problems--chest pain, irregular heartbeats, swelling in your lower legs, rapid weight gain, feeling lightheaded or short of breath; or

  • low blood cell counts--fever, chills, tiredness, mouth sores, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed or short of breath.

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

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;

  • feeling weak or tired;

  • hand and foot syndrome; or

  • jaundice.

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 capecitabine?

If you take a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven), you may need to have more frequent "INR" or prothrombin time tests. Taking a blood thinner can increase your risk of severe bleeding while you are using capecitabine, and for a short time after you stop taking capecitabine. This risk is higher in adults older than 60.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

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

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.