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Sunitinib

Sunitinib

Why is this medication prescribed?

Sunitinib is used to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST; a type of tumor that grows in the stomach, intestine (bowel), or esophagus (tube that connects the throat with the stomach) in people with tumors that were not treated successfully with imatinib (Gleevec) or people who cannot take imatinib. Sunitinib is also used to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC, a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the kidneys). Sunitinib is also used to help prevent the return of RCC in people who have RCC that has not spread and have had a kidney removed. Sunitinib is also used to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET, a type of tumor that begins in certain cells of the pancreas) in people with tumors that have worsened and cannot be treated with surgery. Sunitinib is in a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of the abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply. This helps stop or slow the spread of cancer cells and may help shrink tumors.

What side effects can this medication cause?

  • weakness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • heartburn
  • gas
  • hemorrhoids

How should I take sunitinib?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Your blood pressure and liver function may need to be tested at the beginning of each 4-week treatment cycle.

Sunitinib is usually taken once per day. Sunitinib is sometimes taken for 4 weeks followed by 2 weeks off the drug. Your doctor will determine how many complete treatment cycles you need based on your condition.

You may take sunitinib with or without food.

How sunitinib works

Sunitinib is a type of targeted therapy drug called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It works by blocking (inhibiting) signals in cancer cells that make them grow and divide. This may help to stop the cancer growing or slow it down.

Sunitinib can also stop cancer cells from developing new blood vessels. This reduces their supply of oxygen and nutrients, so the tumour shrinks or stops growing.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

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