Abiraterone is a drug used to treat castration-resistant and advanced prostate cancer. It is often prescribed after other treatments, such as chemotherapy with the drug docetaxel, have failed. The drug is typically taken along with the steroid prednisone. This medication has been found in studies to increase the survival of patients by several months. It is marketed under the name Zytiga™.
Testosterone is believed to contribute to the growth of cancer cells. Abiraterone works by inhibiting the growth of a protein that is important in the production of this hormone. It is prescribed to patients whose previous treatments have resulted in low testosterone but who still have growing cancer cells.
Abiraterone is an oral medication. It is typically prescribed to be taken daily with a full glass of water. The drug is meant to be taken on an empty stomach, as the presence of food may cause the body to absorb too much of the medication, thus causing additional health problems. In order to avoid these side effects, patients are usually advised to avoid food two hours before and one hour following administration of the drug.
There have been studies to explore the use of abiraterone in the earlier stages of prostate cancer, before surgery is performed to remove the tumor. It is believed to be an effective treatment for untreated cancer when combined with other drugs. Scientists have conducted studies to explore which medications work best with abiraterone.
This drug can be problematic for patients with liver or heart problems. A history of pituitary or adrenal illness may also make taking the drug too risky. In order to ensure that abiraterone is safe for the patient, many doctors will test for these and other medical conditions before prescribing the drug.
Due to a high risk of birth defects, women who are nursing, pregnant or planning to become pregnant are advised to wear gloves while handling the drug. It is also important for men who engage in sexual intercourse with women in these conditions to wear a condom while on the medication and for at least a week after discontinuing use of the drug.
The most commonly reported side effects of abiraterone include aching muscles and swelling or pain in the joints. A patient may also experience heartburn, diarrhea, and symptoms similar to a cold. There have also been reports of more frequent urination and urinary tract infections.