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What is Ixabepilone?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Ixabepilone is a chemotherapy drug. Specifically, it is classified as an antimicrotubule agent. It is intended to treat metastatic breast cancer, or breast cancer that is advanced and has spread. Typically, a patient tries this medicine after other cancer treatments have been unsuccessful. Capecitabine, another chemotherapy drug, is often used together with ixabepilone.

This medication works by attaching itself to the microtubules within cells. Then, it prevents the cell from replicating, ultimately resulting in cell death. Healthy cells will be destroyed along with the cancerous ones, which leads to side effects.


Ixabepilone is in the form of a powder. A health care professional mixes the powder with a fluid. It is then intravenously administered into the patient's vein. There is no oral form of this medicine. Typically, the dosage takes three hours to administer, and it is usually given once every three weeks.

Some possible side effects from taking ixabepilone require emergency medical care. These include a fever and chills. Difficulty swallowing and breathing as well as a tightness in the chest are also possible. Patients who notice a redness, swelling, or pain at the injection site should notify a doctor immediately.

Other symptoms should be brought to the doctor's attention within 24 hours. These include persistent nausea and vomiting that prevent a person from eating as well as persistent diarrhea that may lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration can include dizziness, dry mouth, and decreased urination. Extreme fatigue, mouth sores, and swelling of the lower extremities may also occur.

Less urgent side effects that may be reported to the doctor at the next appointment include bone and muscle pain. Some patients may experience abdominal pain, constipation, and a loss of appetite. Others may notice peripheral neuropathy, which is a numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Hair loss is also common.

Ixabepilone tends to lower one's white blood cell count, which reduces one's ability to fight off infections and illness. Patients should follow self-care guidelines, such as drinking plenty of water, getting sufficient rest, and maintaining good nutrition. People who have trouble eating may be prescribed an anti-nausea medication. Patients also should avoid contact with sick people and crowds. It is generally recommended that cancer patients avoid alcohol as well.

Patients taking ixabepilone should avoid vaccinations without a physician's approval. They should also avoid drinking grapefruit juice, as this can increase the risk of side effects. It is strongly recommended for patients to use a barrier method of birth control, as ixabepilone can cause birth defects. Pregnant or nursing women should not use this drug.

Certain medical conditions may preclude one from using ixabepilone. People who have liver disease, for example, may experience serious side effects when taking this drug in combination with capecitabine. It may even be fatal. Patients should also disclose all other medications and supplements they take before using this chemotherapy medicine.

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