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.
- 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