Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. If you have symptoms of cancer contact your doctor.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer

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Cabazitaxel (Jevtana)

Cabazitaxel is a type of chemotherapy. You might have it as a treatment for prostate cancer that has spread (advanced prostate cancer).

How cabazitaxel works

Cabazitaxel works by stopping cancer cells from separating into two new cells. This blocks the growth of the cancer. 

How you have cabazitaxel

You have cabazitaxel as a drip into your bloodstream (intravenously).

Into your bloodstream

You have treatment through a thin short tube (a cannula) that goes into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment.

Or you might have treatment through a long line: a central line, a PICC line or a portacath. These are long plastic tubes that give the drug into a large vein in your chest. The tube stays in place throughout the course of treatment.

When you have cabazitaxel

You have cabazitaxel in cycles of treatment. Each cycle is a 3 week period. This means that you have a cabazitaxel drip once every 3 weeks.

You also take steroids (prednisolone) as tablets every morning, after breakfast. 

Tests

You have blood tests before 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

We haven't listed all the side effects. It's very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects, but you might have some of them at the same time.

How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatments you're having. For example, your side effects could be worse if you're also having other drugs or radiotherapy.

When to contact your team

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will go through the possible side effects. They will monitor you closely during treatment and check how you are at your appointments. Contact your advice line as soon as possible if:

  • you have severe side effects 
  • your side effects aren’t getting any better
  • your side effects are getting worse

Early treatment can help manage side effects better. 

Contact your doctor or nurse immediately if you have signs of infection, including a temperature above 37.5C or below 36C.

Common side effects

These side effects happen in more than 10 in 100 people (10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

Risk of infection

Increased risk of getting an infection is due to a drop in white blood cells. Symptoms include a change in temperature, aching muscles, headaches, feeling cold and shivery and generally unwell. You might have other symptoms depending on where the infection is.

Infections can sometimes be life threatening. You should contact your advice line urgently if you think you have an infection. 

Breathlessness and looking pale

You might be breathless and look pale due to a drop in red blood cells. This is called anaemia.

Bruising and bleeding

This is due to a drop in the number of platelets in your blood. These blood cells help the blood to clot when we cut ourselves. You may have nosebleeds or bleeding gums after brushing your teeth. Or you may have lots of tiny red spots or bruises on your arms or legs (known as petechia).

Loss of appetite and weight loss

You might not feel like eating and may lose weight. It is important to eat as much as you can. Eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day can be easier to manage. You can talk to a dietitian if you are concerned about your appetite or weight loss. 

Taste changes

Taste changes may make you go off certain foods and drinks. You may also find that some foods taste different from usual or that you prefer to eat spicier foods. Your taste gradually goes back to normal a few weeks after your treatment finishes.

Lung problems

You might develop a cough or breathing problems. This could be due to infection, such as pneumonia or inflammation of the lungs (pneumonitis). Let your doctor or nurse know straight away if you suddenly become breathless or develop a cough.

Diarrhoea or constipation

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have diarrhoea or constipation. They can give you medicine to help. 

Feeling or being sick

Feeling or being sick is usually well controlled with anti sickness medicines. Avoiding fatty or fried foods, eating small meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water, and relaxation techniques, can all help.

It is important to take anti sickness medicines as prescribed even if you don’t feel sick. It is easier to prevent sickness rather than treating it once it has started.

Tummy (abdominal) pain

Tell your treatment team if you have this. They can check the cause and give you medicine to help. 

Hair loss (complete hair loss)

You could lose all your hair. This includes your eyelashes, eyebrows, underarm, leg and sometimes pubic hair. Your hair will usually grow back once treatment has finished but it is likely to be softer. It may grow back a different colour or be curlier than before. 

Joint or back pain

You might have pain in your back or joints. Speak to your doctor or nurse about what painkillers you can take to help with this.

Blood in your urine

This can be caused by different reasons, including infection. Tell your doctor if you see blood in your urine or have any pain.

Tiredness and weakness

You might feel very tired and as though you lack energy.

Various things can help you to reduce tiredness and cope with it, for example exercise. Some research has shown that taking gentle exercise can give you more energy. It is important to balance exercise with resting.

Occasional side effects

These side effects happen in between 1 and 10 out of every 100 people (1 to 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • allergic reaction – you have medicine before you have cabazitaxel to reduce the risk of a reaction. Tell your doctor straight away if you feel short of breath, itchy, hot or shivery, or have a rash
  • blood clots that are life threatening; signs are pain, swelling and redness where the clot is. Feeling breathless can be a sign of a blood clot on the lung. Contact your advice line or doctor straight away if you have any of these symptoms
  • an irregular or very fast heart rate – tell your doctor or nurse if you feel dizzy, short of breath or tired or your heart feels like it’s pounding or fluttering, or you have any chest pain
  • numbness, tingling or a burning feeling in the hands and feet
  • headaches
  • dizziness or feeling like you or everything around you is spinning – don’t drive or operate heavy machinery if you feel dizzy
  • changes to your blood pressure
  • tummy problems which include pain, feeling bloated, burping or heart burn
  • dry or sore mouth or throat
  • swollen veins in or around your anus (called piles or haemorrhoids) which can be painful and may bleed slightly when you open your bowels - a cream from your pharmacist can help. Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you have a lot of bleeding
  • feeling pain in muscles or having muscle spasms
  • feeling pain or having difficulty passing urine, or leaking urine (incontinence) - your kidneys not working properly (renal failure)
  • swelling, usually in arms and legs (oedema)
  • skin changes such as dry or red skin, feeling flushed, hot or cold
  • mood changes such as feeling confused or anxious
  • dehydration
  • high blood sugar levels
  • low potassium levels in your blood
  • watery eyes or redness and inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis)
  • ringing in your ears (tinnitus)

Rare side effects

This side effect happens in fewer than 1 in 100 people (1%):

  • inflammation of the bladder - this can happen if you've had radiotherapy to the area in the past . Tell your doctor or nurse if you have pain when passing urine or see blood

Coping with side effects

We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.

What else do I need to know?

Other medicines, foods and drinks

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.

St John’s wort

St John’s wort is a herbal remedy used as a complementary therapy for mild to moderate depression. Let your doctor know if you are taking this.

Alcohol

Cabazitaxel contains a small amount of alcohol, equal to 14ml of beer or 6ml of wine. This medicine may be harmful for people with alcohol problems.

Loss of fertility

You may not be able to father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you want to have a baby in the future. You may be able to store sperm before starting treatment.

Contraception and pregnancy

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to father a child while you are having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists 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 up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and the shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine (as an injection)

Contact with others who have had immunisations - You can be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections. Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as the oral typhoid vaccine.

If your immune system is severely weakened, you should avoid contact with children who have had the flu vaccine as a nasal spray. This is for 2 weeks following their vaccination.

Babies have the live rotavirus vaccine. The virus is in the baby’s poo for about 2 weeks and could make you ill if your immunity is low. Get someone else to change their nappies during this time if you can. If this isn't possible, wash your hands well after changing their nappy.

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