Xeloda® is a brand name for the generic medication capecitabine. This is a chemotherapy drug that is prescribed to treat breast, colon, or rectal cancer that has begun to spread to other tissues. It is classified as an antimetabolite, which means that it works by interfering with the growth of cancer cells, preventing them from replicating.
The starting dose of Xeloda® for adults is usually based on body size, however the doctor will also consider the severity of the patient's illness and the potential incidence of side effects. Doctors will typically prescribe 2500 milligrams (mg) of Xeloda® per square meter of body surface area. This total is divided in half, with each dosage to be taken 12 hours apart. Each dose must be taken with a glass of water no later than half an hour following a meal. Dosages for children will be determined on an individual basis.
This medication is typically prescribed in cycles so that the drug will target cancer cells specifically when they are in the process of replicating. Patients will usually take Xeloda® daily for two weeks, and then discontinue the medication for the following week. On the fourth week, patients will resume the medication. This cycle is typically repeated for a total of 24 weeks, or as prescribed by the doctor. The doctor will regularly monitor the health of the patient through blood tests and tests that check for liver and kidney function.
Patients may experience side effects from the use of Xeloda®. Less serious side effects may be reported to the doctor if they persist or become severe, such as dizziness, headache, and eye irritation. Fatigue, stomach pain, and joint or muscle pain can occur. Hair loss, an altered sense of taste, and constipation are also possible, as well as nausea, vomiting and insomnia.
More serious side effects require a doctor's care as soon as possible. These can include a fever and other flu-like symptoms, chest pain, and sudden numbness. Severe vomiting, dehydration, and problems with speech, balance, or vision may also occur. Rarely, a slow heart rate, fainting, and slowed or even stopped breathing may occur.
Before taking Xeloda®, patients must discuss other medications and supplements with the prescribing physician. It is essential for the patient to avoid taking this chemotherapy drug along with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, phenprocoumon, or aspirin. Unusual bruising or bleeding may occur, which may become serious enough to result in a fatality. Other drugs that may interact with Xeloda® include diabetes medications, other cancer drugs, and medicines prescribed for high blood pressure.
Patients should also discuss other medical conditions they have. They may need an adjusted dose if they also have a history of coronary artery disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. Xeloda® should not be used by patients with certain metabolic disorders or severe kidney disease. In addition, this medication may cause birth defects in an unborn baby. As of 2011, it is unknown whether the drug passes into breast milk.