Abiraterone acetate (Generic Name)

Other Names: Zytiga®

About This Drug

Abiraterone is used to treat cancer. It is given by mouth (orally).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet
  • Changes in liver enzymes. Your doctor will check your liver enzymes as needed.
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint swelling
  • Flushing
  • Electrolyte changes, including potassium and phosphorus. Your blood will be checked for electrolyte changes as needed.
  • Increased frequency of urination

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Decreased appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: Abiraterone should not be given to women who are or who may become pregnant. This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child. Sexual partners of pregnant women or women of childbearing potential who are taking abiraterone should use a condom while taking the drug and for at least one week after stopping the drug. Additionally, women who are or who may become pregnant should wear gloves when handling abiraterone tablets.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast feeding warning: Abiraterone is currently not indicated for use in breast feeding. It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • If you vomit or have diarrhea, you are at risk for dehydration. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids, unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake. Drink six to eight cups of fluid every day. A cup is eight ounces.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help with diarrhea or an upset stomach.

Important Information

Administer orally on an empty stomach, at least one hour before and two hours after food. Take with water and swallow tablets whole.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of abiraterone with food. This drug may interact with other medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Increased frequency or burning while urinating
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Diarrhea of four stools a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Severe headache/confusion

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet
  • Joint swelling
  • Persistent loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (more than five pounds in one week).

Revised January 2013

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