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Bosutinib (Bosulif)

Read about the cancer drug bosutinib, how you have it and other important information.

Bosutinib is pronounced boss-oo-tin-ib. It has the brand name Bosulif (pronounced boss-oo-lif).

Bosutinib is used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia that has an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. 95 out of 100 people with CML (95%) have the Philadelphia chromosome. This drug is used when other CML treatments no longer work or cause severe side effects.

It is sometimes used in other types of cancer or leukaemia as part of clinical trials.

How it works

Bosutinib is a type of drug called a protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Tyrosine kinases are proteins that act as chemical messengers to stimulate cancer cells to grow.

Bosutinib blocks (inhibits) a protein made by CML cells that have the Philadelphia chromosome. Blocking this protein stops the leukaemia cells growing. 

How you have it

Bosutinib comes as tablets that you take once a day, in the morning, with food. You should swallow them whole with a glass of water.

You usually carry on taking bosutinib for as long as it works, unless it causes bad side effects.

Taking your tablets or capsules

You must take tablets and capsules 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.

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

Bosutinib is a relatively new drug and so we are still learning about the side effects, especially longer term ones.

Always tell your doctor or specialist nurse if you have a new symptom or side effect. They can decide whether it is due to the drug or to something else. They can then work out how to help you.

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.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice

You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when you are taking this drug because it can react with the drug.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months 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.

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 Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

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, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

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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