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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into 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, pharmacists 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.
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 shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections
Avoid close contact with people who’ve recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.
This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.
You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened.
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)