Xeloda

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Brand name: Xeloda

Chemical name: Capecitabine

Class: Antimetabolite chemotherapy. Fluorouracil, Gemzar, and methotrexate are other antimetabolites.

How it works: Antimetabolites kill cancer cells by acting as false building blocks in a cancer cell’s genes, causing the cancer cell to die as it gets ready to divide.

Uses: Xeloda often is used in combination with other anticancer medicines. Typically it’s used to treat metastatic breast cancer that has stopped responding to Taxol, Taxotere, and Adriamycin.

How it’s given: Xeloda is taken orally as a pill.

Additional information: Xeloda is in an inactive form when you take it. Your liver, and then enzymes in the cancer cells, convert it to its active cancer-fighting form, 5-fluorouracil. (Cancer cells contain high levels of an enzyme that converts Xeloda to its active state.) This two-step activation process means that a higher concentration of the medicine ends up in the cancer tissue, rather than in healthy tissue.

Side effects:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • mouth and throat sores
  • loss of appetite or decreased appetite
  • excessive water loss from the body (dehydration)
  • hand-foot syndrome
  • irregular periods — this can include temporary cessation (usually resume after medication is completed) or permanent cessation of menstrual periods depending on your age and other factors

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