capecitabine, Xeloda

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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GENERIC NAME: capecitabine

BRAND NAME: Xeloda

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Capecitabine is an oral medication for treating advanced breast cancer that is resistant to combination therapy with the drugs of choice, paclitaxel (Taxol) and a drug from the anthracycline family of drugs, for example, doxorubicin (Adriamycin). Capecitabine is converted by the body to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a drug which has been given intravenously for many years to treat various types of cancer. It is not surprising, therefore, that capecitabine also is effective in the treatment of colorectal cancer, a type of cancer that is treated frequently with 5-FU. 5-FU inhibits the production by the cancerous cells of both DNA and protein that are necessary for the cells to divide and the cancer to grow in size. Capecitabine was approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of breast cancer and in 2005 for the treatment of colorectal cancer.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Capecitabine is used for treating women with breast cancer that has spread to other tissues and is resistant to other more commonly-used drugs. It also is used following surgery for later stages of colon cancer and colorectal cancer that has spread to other tissues.

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects with capecitabine are:

  • diarrhea,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • painful swelling of the mouth,
  • fatigue,
  • painful rash and
  • swelling of the hands or feet,
  • low white blood cell count (which can lead to infections),
  • low blood platelet counts (which can lead to bleeding), and
  • anemia.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/28/2015

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