Abiraterone acetate (Generic Name)

Other Names: Zytiga®

About This Drug

Abiraterone is used to treat patients with certain types of prostate cancer. It is given by mouth (orally).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Low potassium level
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Swelling
  • Increase in liver function tests (AST, ALT, bilirubin)
  • Hot flashes
  • Muscle and/or joint aches

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Cough
  • High blood pressure
  • Infection (most often urinary tract or respiratory)
  • Irregular heart beat

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 have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluid so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen the loose bowel movements.
  • Your doctor will check your liver function and potassium level while you are taking this medicine.
  • The dose of abiraterone may need to be changed based on your lab test results.
  • Your heart tissue can be harmed by this drug. This may cause your heart to beat in a way that is not normal. Your doctor may order an EKG to check this.

Important Information

  • Take this drug on an empty stomach, at least one hour before eating or two hours after eating.
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.
  • Take the tablet with water and swallow it whole. Do not break, crush or chew the tablet.
  • The prednisone that is given with the abiraterone should be taken with food. Therefore these drugs should not be taken together.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose of abiraterone and/or prednisone, just take your usual dose the
    next day. If you miss more than one dose, tell your doctor right away.

Food and Drug Interactions

Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and dietary supplements you are taking before starting this medicine as there are a lot of known drug interactions with abiraterone. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplement to make sure that there are no interactions.

 

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 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Seizures
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine
  • Pain in your lower back or side
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause.  If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911. 
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

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

  • Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Decreased urine
  • Unusual thirst or passing urine often
  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Heavy menstrual period that lasts longer than normal
  • Numbness, tingling, decreased feeling or weakness in fingers, toes, arms, or legs
  • Trouble walking or changes in the way you walk, feeling clumsy when buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine hand motions
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Painful, red, or swollen areas on your hands or feet.
  • No bowel movement for 3 days or you feel uncomfortable
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Sexual Problems and Reproduction Concerns

  • 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 therapy. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may cause very harmful effects on an unborn child.  Abiraterone should never be used by women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant while taking the drug. Even 1 dose taken by a pregnant woman can cause these very harmful effects. Your healthcare team will talk to you and give you written information about this risk.
  • 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 2015

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