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Cabozantinib (Cometriq)

Find out what cabozantinib is, how you have it and other important information about having cabozantinib.

    Cabozantinib is a cancer treatment drug and is also known by its brand name Cometriq.

    It is a treatment for a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer for:

    • people who can’t have surgery
    • people whose cancer has spread to another part of the body

    How cabozantinib works

    Cabozantinib is a cancer growth blocker. It blocks particular proteins called protein kinases on the cancer cells. Protein kinases encourage the cancer to grow. Cabozantinib is called a multi kinase inhibitor because it blocks a number of these proteins.

    It also stops the cancer growing new blood vessels that cells need to grow. 

    Cabozantinib might shrink the cancer or stop it growing for a time. 

    How you have it

    Cabozantinib are capsules you take once a day. Your doctor tells you how many to take.

    Taking your tablets or capsules

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

    Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.

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

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

    Swallow the tablets whole and don’t open them. Don’t eat for at least 2 hours before you take them and for an hour after taking them.

    When you take it

    You take them once a day. You should take the capsules at the same time each day. You continue taking cabozantinib as long as it is helping and the side effects aren't too bad.

    If you miss a dose

    If you forgot to take a dose and it is more than 12 hours until your next dose then take the missed dose and the next dose as normal.

    If you forgot to take a dose and it is less than 12 hours until your next dose then miss that dose and take your next dose as normal.

    Tests during treatment

    You might have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your general health and might check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood.

    Side effects

    Important information

    Other medicines and foods

    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.

    Many medicines can react with cabozantinib.

    Don’t eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while having treatment with cabozantinib. It can change the amount of cabozantinib you absorb and make the side effects worse.

    Slow wound healing

    Cabozantinib can make wounds heal more slowly. If you need to have an operation you may need to stop taking cabozantinib for a while beforehand. Your treatment team will let you know when you can start taking it again.

    Possible long term effects

    Cabozantinib is a fairly new drug in cancer treatment. So there is limited information available at the moment about possible longer term effects that it may cause. Tell your doctor or nurse if you notice anything that is not normal for you.

    Blood clots

    You are more at risk of developing a blood clot during treatment. Drink plenty of fluids and keep moving to help prevent clots.

    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.

    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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