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Everolimus (Afinitor)

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

How it works

Everolimus is a type of treatment called a signal transduction inhibitor. Signal transduction inhibitors stop some of the signals within cells that make them grow and divide.

Everolimus stops a particular protein called mTOR from working properly. mTOR controls other proteins that trigger cancer cells to grow. So everolimus helps to stop the cancer growing or may slow it down.

How you have it

You take everolimus as a tablet once a day. You should take it at the same time each day and swallow it whole with a glass of water. You can take it with or without food. But do the same thing each day, so have it every day with food or every day without food.

If you miss a dose, don't take an extra dose. Take the next prescribed dose at the usual time. 

If you accidentally take too much, see a doctor or go to a hospital 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 usually take everolimus every day 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.

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.

Lactose intolerance

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

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important for women not to become pregnant while you are having treatment and for 8 weeks afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

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.

Breastfeeding

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

Hepatitis and everolimus

Hepatitis means inflammation (swelling) of the liver. It can be due to a viral infection or because the liver comes into contact with harmful substances such as alcohol. This drug can make hepatitis infection active again. So you should let your doctor know if you have had hepatitis in the past.

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.

Slow wound healing

This drug 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.

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

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.

Everolimus is pronounced e-ve-ro-li-mus. Its brand name is Afinitor. It is a biological therapy treatment for: 

  • advanced breast cancer if you have been through the menopause (post menopausal)
  • advanced kidney cancer that has come back either during or after treatment
  • neuroendocrine tumours of the pancreas that can't be removed with surgery or have spread (metastatic disease)

Researchers are also looking at everolimus as a treatment for: 

  • head and neck cancer
  • cancer of the food pipe (oesophagus)

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.