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Capecitabine

Drug Class: Commonly Known As: Category:
Antimetabolite Xeloda® Cancer-related

Capecitabine - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can Capecitabine cause?

  • Mild nausea or vomiting may occur at the beginning
    • Take small, frequent meals throughout the day.
    • Take the medications for nausea or vomiting as instructed by your doctor if any.
  • Diarrhea
    • Drink plenty of clear fluids to replace those lost (2 litres everyday).
    • Avoid oily or spicy food and milk or dairy products.
  • Mouth sores
    • Rinse your mouth after meals using an alcohol-free mouthwash or salt water.
    • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush.
  • Palms of the hands or soles of the feet may become numb, sore, red or dry
    • Moisturize these areas daily.
    • Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes.
  • Skin discolouration e.g. darkening at certain areas
    • This is temporary. Your skin will return to normal when you stop Capecitabine.
  • Nail changes e.g. discolouration, more brittle
    • Keep your nails short and trim to avoid easy breaking.
  • Feeling tired and lack of energy
    • Do not drive or operate machinery when you feel tired.
  • Decreased white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets
    • This may put you at higher risk of infections, bleeding or bruising and feeling tired.
    • To reduce your risk of infection:
      • Avoid crowds and people who are sick. Wear a face mask when you are going out.
      • Wash your hands after using the toilet and before handling food.
      • Eat food that is fresh and completely cooked, and avoid raw or half-cooked food.
    • To reduce your risk of bleeding problems:
      • Be careful when using sharp objects such as knives.
      • Try not to bruise, cut or knock yourself.
      • Brush your teeth gently as your gums may bleed more easily.
      • Apply direct pressure to any cuts or wounds to help stop bleeding.

Please see your healthcare professional immediately if any of the following occur:

  • Signs of infection - fever of 38° C and above, chills, cough, body aches
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, black sticky stools or blood in urine
  • Very bad diarrhoea (e.g. more than 4 times a day) that does not improve even after taking medications used to stop diarrhoea
  • Painful blisters and peeling of hands or feet, or very bad skin rash
  • Dark urine or light coloured stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellowing of your eyes or skin
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Very bad swelling of hands, feet or lower legs
  • Symptoms of a drug allergy including one or more of the following:
    • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
    • Difficulty in breathing
    • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

Before taking Capecitabine, what precautions must I follow?

Inform your healthcare professional if:

  • You are allergic to this medication or to fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • You or your partner becomes pregnant or is planning for pregnancy
    • You should use effective birth control during and treatment.
  • You are breastfeeding
    • Do not breastfeed during treatment
  • You have any other medical conditions such as heart problems
  • You are taking or intend to take any other medication such as warfarin, supplements, traditional medications or herbal remedies

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take Capecitabine?

Capecitabine - Additional Information

​You may refer to the following website if you need more information: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/

  • Updated on Monday, September 30, 2019
  • Article contributed by PSS National Medication Information Workgroup

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