Pazopanib is a chemotherapeutic agent a doctor may prescribe as part of the treatment plan for renal cell carcinoma and certain other cancers. The patient may take this drug alone or with other medications, to attack the cancer from multiple angles. It is available by prescription only and comes in the form of tablets the patient must take regularly to keep levels of the drug in the body stable. During treatment, the patient must attend regular follow-up appointments to see if the cancer is responding and check for dangerous side effects.
This drug inhibits the activity of tyrosine kinase, an enzyme involved in the regulation of activities inside cells. Patients on pazopanib have problems with uncontrolled cell growth and the development of new blood vessels to supply cancerous tumors. The drug inhibits cell replication and limits opportunities for angiogenesis, cutting off the supply of blood to a cancer while preventing it from growing any larger. Adding a second drug to the regimen may make it more effective by limiting other cellular activities in the cancer.
Patients on pazopanib can experience a number of side effects because the drug also harms healthy cells. Hair loss, stomach discomfort, rashes, and swelling of the extremities may occur. Some patients develop fatigue, sensitivity to cold, and loss of appetite. More seriously, pazopanib can sometimes cause internal bleeding and liver damage. The patient should discuss side effects with a doctor to determine if they are signs of an adverse reaction to the drug and get more information about how to manage them. It may be possible to adjust the dosage or take another medication to control unpleasant side effects.
Studies suggest pazopanib can cause harm in pregnant women. Pregnant women with cancer should discuss their treatment options with an oncologist and obstetrician. Leaving the cancer untreated can pose more risks than taking potentially teratogenic medications that might harm the fetus. It may be possible to limit damage to the fetus or to pursue options like banking eggs in the hopes of future pregnancies, possibly through surrogacy, after successful treatment of the cancer.
Chemotherapy regimens can last for varying lengths of time. They are often stressful and patients can benefit from joining a support group or receiving assistance through a community network for cancer patients. Support can vary from offering rides to patients so they don't have to drive to the doctor to counseling sessions to help people cope with a cancer diagnosis.