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Mitotane (Generic Name)

UPMC Content 2

About This Drug

Mitotane is used to treat some kinds of cancer that affect the adrenal cortex. It is given by mouth.

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 24 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Feeling drowsy, weak, or very tired
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded when getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • Rash, flushing, or redness of the skin

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Eye irritation.  You may have watery eyes.  Your eyes and lids may get red and painful.
  • Blurred vision or double vision
  • Mood changes. You may have changes in your moods, including depression. Mood changes are common in patients with cancer.
  • Fever

Treating Side Effects

  • If you are drowsy, do not drive a car or operate machinery. Avoid alcohol and medicines that may cause you to be more drowsy, such as sedatives, unless prescribed by your doctor.
  • If you feel dizzy when you first stand up, sit upright for a few minutes before you stand up from lying down
  • Be careful when cooking, walking, and using sharp objects or hot liquids.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen nausea, throwing up, or loose bowel movements.
  • 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.
  • Talk with your doctor or nurse if you feel you need help with your mood.

Important Information 

  • Do not keep these pills in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp areas. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down.
  • Wear gloves when taking this medicine out of the bottle.  Do not allow this medicine to sit out in the open on counters or in any containers other than the one from the pharmacy.
  • Do not crush this medicine before taking.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than normal. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert.
  • This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and medicines that slow down the nervous system such as antihistamines, some pain medicines, and sedatives. Always check with your doctor or nurse before taking these.

Food and Drug Interactions

This drug may interact with blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin).  Your doctor may order extra lab draws and your dose of the blood thinner may change.  This drug may also 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 effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. 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 advice.  

When to Call the Doctor

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

  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Painful urination; blood in urine
  • Feeling confused or agitated
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day

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

  • Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medications
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Reproduction and Infertility Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child.  For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while getting this drug.
  • 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.
  • Infertility warning: Sexual problems and reproduction concerns may happen. In both men and women, this drug may affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your treatment. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Talk to your doctor and ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Revised July 2014