Sutent belongs to the group of medicines known as antineoplastics. It is used to treat a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) after a medicine called imatinib did not work very well. It may also be used when patients are not able to take imatinib.
GIST is a group of cancer cells that start growing in the wall of the stomach, intestines, or rectum. Sunitinib is also used to treat advanced (late-stage) kidney cancer.
Sunitinib is also used to treat a type of pancreatic cancer called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET), that cannot be surgically removed and is locally advanced or metastatic (cancer that has spread).
Sunitinib interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by sunitinib, other effects will also occur.
Some of these may be serious and must be reported to your doctor. Other effects, like hair loss, may not be serious but may cause concern. Some effects may not occur for months or years after the medicine is used.
Before you begin treatment with sunitinib, you and your doctor should talk about the benefits this medicine will do as well as the risks of using it.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription. This product is available in the following dosage forms:
2 What to Know Before Using
Before using Sutent, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. This is a decision you and your doctor will make.
For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Allergies: Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Pediatric Population: Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of sunitinib in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Geriatric Population: Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of sunitinib in the elderly.
Pregnancy: All Trimesters: Category D: Studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus. However, the benefits of therapy in a life threatening situation or a serious disease may outweigh the potential risk.
Breastfeeding: There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Drug Interactions: Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose or other precautions may be necessary.
When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Other Interactions: Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Other Medical Problems: The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine.
Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
To use Sutent properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
This medicine comes with a Medication Guide. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions. You may take this medicine with or without food. Do not open the capsules.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may cause you to have too much of this medicine in the blood. You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are taking this medicine.
Dosing: The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
Adults—50 milligrams (mg) once a day for 4 weeks. This is followed by 2 weeks without medicine. Your doctor may tell you to repeat this cycle.
Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
For the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET):
Adults—37.5 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 50 mg per day.
Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
Missed Dose: This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.
Storage: Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing. Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
4 Precautions to Take
Before using Sutent, there are some precautions you must take. It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to see if the medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
If you are a woman who can get pregnant, your doctor may do tests to make sure you are not pregnant before starting sunitinib treatment. Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby.
Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Cancer medicines can cause nausea or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these unwanted effects.
These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
Check with your doctor right away if you are:
rapidly gaining weight or have chest pain or discomfort
extreme tiredness or weakness
excessive swelling of the hands, wrist, ankles, or feet
These may be symptoms of a heart problem.
Contact your doctor right away if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. You might feel dizzy or faint, or you might have a fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat. Make sure your doctor knows if you or anyone in your family has ever had a heart rhythm problem such as QT prolongation.
This medicine may also increase your risk of bleeding and cause a delay in wound healing.
Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any:
unusual bleeding or bruising
black, tarry stools
blood in the urine or stools
pinpoint red spots on your skin
It is important that you check with your doctor before having any dental procedures or surgeries done, or are receiving bisphosphonates (eg, alendronate, ibandronate, risedronate, Actonel®, Boniva®, Fosamax®, Zometa®) while you are receiving sunitinib.
Tell your doctor right away if you have:
a loose tooth
This could be symptoms of a severe problem of your jaw. This medicine may cause a serious type of reaction called tumor lysis syndrome. Your doctor may give you a medicine to help prevent this.
Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. You may need to stop using this medicine several days before having surgery or medical tests.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal (eg, St. John's wort) or vitamin supplements.
5 Potential Side Effects
As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Sutent. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, fingers, lower legs, or feet
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.
Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
acid or sour stomach
blistering, peeling, redness, or swelling of the palms, hands, or bottoms of the feet
numbness, pain, tingling, or unusual sensations in the palms of the hands or bottoms of the feet
pain or burning in the throat
stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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