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Axitinib (Inlyta)

Find out what axitinib is, how you have it and other important information about taking axitinib.

Axitinib is a targeted cancer drug (biological therapy) and is also known by its brand name Inlyta.

It is a treatment for advanced kidney cancer. You might also have it as part of a clinical trial for other types of cancer.

How it works

Axitinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) which is a cancer growth blocker. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors work by blocking certain proteins called tyrosine kinases from acting on cells. Tyrosine kinases signal to cancer cells to grow.

Diagram showing an example of how growth inhibitors can block more than one action in a cell

Axitinib blocks different types of tyrosine kinase and is called a multi kinase inhibitor. It stops cancer cells forming blood vessels, which the cancer needs in order to grow. This is called anti angiogenesis treatment.

How you have it

Axitinib comes as red tablets. You take them twice a day, about 12 hours apart. You should swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water. You can take them with or without food.

Taking your tablets

You must take tablets according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

You start on a low dose and your doctor may increase the dose after 2 weeks, depending on how you feel.

You usually carry on taking axitinib for as long as it works.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

This drug contains lactose (milk sugar). If you have an intolerance to lactose, contact your doctor before taking this medicine.

Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice because they can increase the side effects.

Pregnancy and contraception

This drug may harm a baby developing in your womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least 1 week afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.


Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Loss of fertility

We don’t know how this treatment might affect fertility. You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future.

Some men might be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Some women might be able to store eggs or embryos before treatment.

Slow wound healing

Axitinib can slow wound healing. If you need to have an operation you may need to stop taking it for a while beforehand. Your doctor will let you know when you can start taking it again.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.


Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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