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Dabrafenib (Tafinlar)

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

Dabrafenib is a cancer treatment and is also known by its brand name Tafinlar.

It is used as a treatment for melanoma skin cancer. You might have dabrafenib if your melanoma has spread to other parts of the body or can't be removed with surgery.

How it works

Dabrafenib is a cancer growth blocker. It stops signals that cancer cells use to divide and grow.

In some cancers there is a change (mutation) in a gene called BRAF. The BRAF gene makes a protein that helps cancer cells divide and grow.  Dabrafenib stops cells making the BRAF protein (a BRAF inhibitor). This can slow or stop the growth of cancer.

This treatment is only used in people with a change in the BRAF gene.

About 5 out of 10 people (about 50%) with melanoma have this change in the BRAF gene. Your doctor can take samples of the melanoma to see if this treatment is suitable for you.    

How you have it

Dabrafenib is a tablet you take twice a day, 12 hours apart. The usual dose is 2 tablets. 

You should take dabrafenib at least 2 hours after you have eaten. And after taking dabrafenib, you should wait at least 1 hour before you eat. You swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water. You shouldn't crush or chew them. 

If you forget to take dabrafenib 

Take it as soon as you remember if it is less than 6 hours late. If it is more than 6 hours, skip that dose and take the next dose at the usual time. 

If you take more dabrafenib than you should 

Contact your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for advice straight away.

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.

When you have it

You have dabrafenib alone or in combination with another cancer drug called trametinib.

Usually you continue taking dabrafenib for as long as it is helping you and the side effects aren't too bad.  

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.

Your doctor checks your eyes regularly while you have this treatment. You also have your skin checked every month during treatment. And for 6 months after you stop dabrafenib.

You may have CT scans to check your head, neck and lymph glands. You may also have the skin around the back passage (anus) checked before and after treatment. And if you are a women, you might have genital examinations. 

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.

Pregnancy and contraception

This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least a month afterwards.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Breastfeeding

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

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.

Immunisations

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

We haven't listed all the very rare side effects of this treatment. For further information see the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have that isn’t listed here to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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