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Axitinib (Generic Name)

UPMC Content 2

About This Drug

Axitinib is a drug used to treat renal cell cancer. It is given by mouth (orally).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Hand-Foot Syndrome (may involve redness and/or blistering on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet)
  • High blood sugar
  • Low blood calcium
  • Decrease in thyroid function
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Mouth sores
  • Bone marrow depression (most often platelets and red blood cells)
  • Increase in liver function tests
  • Decreased renal function
  • Protein in the urine
  • Throwing up (vomiting)
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Changes in lab results (most often sodium, potassium and phosphorus)

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Greater risk of blood clots
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nose bleeds
  • Bone marrow depression (most often white blood cells)

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help lessen or stop nausea, throwing up (vomiting), loose bowel movements (diarrhea) and/or headache.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of routine, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after each meal and at bedtime.
  • If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that has alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can bother your mouth and throat.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if the rash bothers you.
  • A rash that looks like acne may happen on your face and upper back when taking this medicine. Your doctor can give you medicine to help treat this.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.
  • This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might 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 help.

Important Information

  • Take this medicine with a glass of water. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush, break, or chew it.
  • This drug may be taken with or without food. If you have nausea, take it with food.
  • Missed dose: If you throw up your dose or miss a dose, take your next dose at your normal time.  Do not take 2 doses at the same time.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5°F (38.0°C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Rash or itching
  • Nausea or throwing up (vomiting) that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) of four stools a day or more; or feeling weak or lightheaded during or after loose bowel movements
  • Redness and pain on the palms of the hands and/or soles of the feet
  • Blood in the urine
  • Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Swelling and/or pain in an arm or leg
  • You become pregnant while on this medicine

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Nose bleeds
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Very bad weakness that interferes with normal activities

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment and for up to 6 months after treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised August 2014