Capecitabine, Xeloda, uses, side-effects, warnings

Learn about your cancer drugs.

Cod live oil

A patient-friendly article about Capecitabine (Xeloda), which is a treatment for women with advanced breast cancer who have not responded well to chemotherapy with other agents such as Taxol or Adriamycin; it is also used with colorectal cancer and is taken orally.

Capecitabine is the 'pro-drug' of 5-FU (Fluorouracil) and targets tumour cells with the manufacturer claiming it leaves healthy cells relatively unharmed. Each tablet contains a toxic agent Fluorouracil (5-FU), which is activated only when it reaches the site of the tumour by an enzyme found at high levels in cancer cells but low levels in healthy cells. Clinical trials have shown that it can prolong the lives of women whose cancer has spread to other organs.  It is also used with gastro-intestinal tumours, or colorectal cancer. 

It is usually well tolerated with minimal toxicity, but for some individuals the side-effects can be severe.

Side effects of Capecitabine: can include: diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, mouth and throat sores, decreased appetite, skin rash, dehydration.

Capecitabine Warning: In particular, bleeding can occur, especially if you are taking blood thinners and particularly Warfarin.

Since the 'active ingredient of Capecitabine is 5-FU, readers should read our review of 5-FU,  the report on cardiotoxicity from the American College of Cardiologists, and.particularly the concern over DPD deficiency.

According to Medscape, while 80% of patients have an enzyme in their livers called Dihydropyrimidine Dehydrogenase which can detoxify the drug, others have a deficiency and approximately 5% have a total lack.  This can cause 'Life-threatening toxicity'. These people must not be given capecitabine and every patient should have a cheap and simple test before using the drug.

In the USA there is a simple test by Labcorp costing under $100; in the UK Cancer Research admits there is no regular testing done claiming that only 2-3% have the deficiency and these people have symptoms (for example, fitting).

There is increasing and convincing evidence that curcumin, or turmeric, can improve the effectiveness of 5-FU while protecting healthy cells

Go to: Curcumin can increase effectiveness of certain chemo drugs 

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Other articles that you may find interesting are

  1. Diet for Chemotherapy ;
  2. beneficial bacteria ;
  3. A-Z guide to complementary therapies;
  4. Your cancer, where you can read about everything from causes to cancer treatments to complementary therapies for your cancer.
  5. How to boost your immune system.

Return to: The A-Z guide to Cancer Drugs

 

Learn about your cancer drugs.
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