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Cabazitaxel (Jevtana)

This page is about a chemotherapy drug called cabazitaxel and its possible side effects. There is information about

 

What cabazitaxel is

Cabazitaxel is a type of taxane chemotherapy drug. The taxanes were originally developed from the yew tree. Cabazitaxel is also called Jevtana. It works by stopping cancer cells dividing into 2 new cells and so blocks the growth of the cancer.

It is a treatment for advanced prostate cancer for men who have had hormone treatment and docetaxel chemotherapy treatments which are no longer working. While you are having cabazitaxel you also take steroid tablets (usually prednisone or prednisolone). Research is also looking at cabazitaxel as a treatment for other types of cancer.

 

How you have cabazitaxel

You have cabazitaxel as a drip (infusion) into your bloodstream (intravenously) every 3 weeks. It takes about an hour. 

You can have it through a thin, short tube (a cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Or you may have it through a central line, a portacath or a PICC line. These are long, plastic tubes that give the drugs directly into a large vein in your chest. You have the tube put in just before your course of treatment starts and it stays in place as long as you need it.

You take the steroids as tablets each day.

The side effects associated with cabazitaxel are listed below. You may have 1 or 2 or a few side effects. You can use the links to find out more about each effect. For general information, see our cancer drug side effects section.

 

Common side effects

More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of the side effects listed below.

A temporary drop in the number of blood cells made by the bone marrow, causing

  • An increased risk of getting an infection from a drop in white blood cells – it is harder to fight infections and you can become very ill. You may have headaches, aching muscles, a cough, a sore throat, pain passing urine or feel cold and shivery
  • Tiredness and breathlessness due to a drop in red blood cells (anaemia) – you may need a blood transfusion
  • Bruising more easily due to a drop in platelets – this can cause nosebleeds, bleeding gums after brushing your teeth, or lots of tiny red spots or bruises on your arms or legs (known as petechia)

Some of these side effects can be life threatening, particularly infections. Contact your hospital straight away if you have any of these side effects. Your doctor will check your blood counts regularly to see how well your bone marrow is working.

Other common side effects include

 

Occasional side effects

Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these.

  • Urine infections – symptoms include passing urine frequently, pain when passing urine, and a raised temperature. If you have any of these contact your doctor straight away
  • An allergic reaction during the infusion – this nearly always happens in the first 10 minutes. If you are going to have a reaction, it is most likely the first or second time you have the drug. Your chemotherapy nurse will monitor you closely for this. Let your treatment team know immediately if you feel breathless or have swelling of the face, lips, throat or eyelids
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes – you may have trouble with fiddly tasks such as doing up buttons. This can start a few days or weeks after treatment and usually goes away within a few months of the treatment finishing
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Headaches
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Indigestion or belching
  • Piles (haemorrhoids) – let your doctor or nurse know if you have any pain when opening your bowels
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hot, flushed skin
  • Feeling confused or anxious
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • A feeling of the heart beating very fast (palpitations)
  • Risk of a blood clot in the leg – let your doctor or nurse know straight away if you have a sore, red hot area on your leg
  • Swollen feet or legs due to fluid build up
 

Important points to remember

The side effects above may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse through your course of treatment, or more side effects may develop as the course goes on. This depends on

  • How many times you've had the drug before
  • Your general health
  • The amount of the drug you have (the dose)
  • Other drugs you are having

Coping with side effects

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so they can help you manage them. They can give you advice or reassure you. Your nurse will give you a contact number to ring if you have any questions or problems. If in doubt, call them.

Other medicines

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Some drugs can react together.

Contraception

Cabazitaxel may have a harmful effect on a baby developing in the womb. You should not father a child whilst taking this drug or for a few months afterwards. Discuss contraception with your doctor before you start your treatment if there is any possibility that your partner could become pregnant.

 

Immunisations and chemotherapy

You should not have immunisations with live vaccines while you are having chemotherapy or for at least 6 months afterwards. In the UK, these include rubella, mumps, measles (usually given together as MMR), BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can have other vaccines, but they may not give you as much protection as usual until your immune system has fully recovered from your chemotherapy. It is safe to have the flu vaccine.

It is safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. There can be problems with vaccines you take by mouth (oral vaccines), but not many people in the UK have these now. So there is usually no problem in being with any baby or child who has recently had any vaccination in the UK. You might need to make sure that you aren't in contact with anyone who has had oral polio, cholera or typhoid vaccination recently, particularly if you live abroad.

 

More information on cabazitaxel

This page does not list all the very rare side effects of this treatment that are very unlikely to affect you. For further information look at the Electronic Medicines Compendium website at www.medicines.org.uk.

If you have a side effect not mentioned here that you think may be due to this treatment you can report it to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at www.mhra.gov.uk.

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Updated: 23 September 2013