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Sorafenib (Nexavar)

Find out what sorafenib is, how you have it and other important information about having sorafenib.

Sorafenib is a cancer treatment and is also known by its brand name, Nexavar.

Sorafenib is a targeted cancer drug and is also known by its brand name, Nexavar. It is a possible treatment for:

  • advanced kidney cancer
  • a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma
  • some types of thyroid cancer when radioactive iodine treatment has not worked

How sorafenib works

Sorafenib is a targeted cancer drug called tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Tyrosine kinase is a protein which acts as a chemical messenger (an enzyme). There are a number of different tyrosine kinases that encourage cancer cells to grow. 

Sorafenib blocks some of the tyrosine kinases and is called a multi kinase inhibitor. It works in two ways:

  • stops signals that tell cancer cells to grow
  • stops cancer cells forming new blood vessels which they need to grow

How you have it

Sorafenib is a tablet you take with a glass of water. You should take it either without food or with a meal that contains low amounts of fat. A high fat meal may make sorafenib work less well. If you have a high fat meal, take the tablets at least 1 hour before or 2 hours afterwards.

You take sorafenib twice a day.

Taking tablets

You must take tablets 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 sorafenib

You usually continue taking sorafenib for as long as it helps and the side effects aren't too bad. 

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.

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

Loss of fertility

It is unknown whether this treatment affects fertility in people. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future.


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

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.


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).

You can:

  • 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.

Information and help

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