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Ibrutinib (Generic Name)

UPMC Content 2

About This Drug​

Ibrutinib is used to treat mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It is given by mouth.  

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Low platelet counts. This will raise your risk of bruising and bleeding.
  • Low neutrophil count. This will raise your risk of infection.
  • Low hemoglobin level. This will raise your risk of feeling very tired (fatigue)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Trouble breathing, feeling short of breath

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Changes in electrolytes
  • Changes in kidney and liver function

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).
  • Your doctor will check your blood counts (platelets, neutrophils and hemoglobin) as needed.
  • If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying down.
  • Your blood will be checked for electrolyte changes as needed.
  • 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 sores in your mouth, avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol.  Avoid alcohol ingestion and smoking because both can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • Your blood will be checked for kidney and/or liver changes as needed.

Important Information

  • Take ibrutinib once a day at about the same time each day. 
  • Take this medicine with water and swallow the capsules whole.  Do not open, break or chew the capsules.
  • MIssed dose: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you think about it.  If it is close to your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal schedule.  Do not take 2 doses at the same time. Do not take extra doses.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of ibrutinib with food. 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. 

When to Call the Doctor

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

  • Easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Soreness of the mouth or throat
  • Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
  • Swelling of the hands and/or feet
  • Severe throwing up and/or diarrhea
  • Temperature of 38.3°C (101.0°F)

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

  • Headache
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Increase or decrease in the number of times you urinate in a day

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. It is best not to become pregnant while taking this medicine.
  • 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.


New:July 2014