Crizotinib

Other Names: Xalkori®

About this drug

Crizotinib is used to treat cancer. It is given orally (by mouth). 

Possible side effects

  • Blurred vision, double vision and other changes in eyesight
  • Tiredness
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Constipation (not able to move bowels)
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
  • Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Changes in your liver function
  • Effects on the nerves are called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and feet. It may be hard for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk as usual. The effect on the nerves may get worse with more doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it does not get better in all people.

Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 25% or greater of patients treated with crizotinib. Not all possible side effects are included above. 

Warnings and Precautions 

  • Changes in your liver function which can very rarely cause liver failure and be life-threatening
  • Inflammation (swelling) of the lungs which can very rarely be life-threatening. You may have a dry cough or trouble breathing.
  • Abnormal heart beat
  • Decrease in heart rate may occur
  • Loss of eyesight and blindness which is very rare

Note: Some of the side effects are very rare. If you have concerns and/or questions, please discuss them with your medical team.

How to Take Your Medication

  • Swallow the medicine whole with or without food.  Do not chew, break, open, or crush capsule. Do not touch a broken or crushed capsule.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you think about it.  If it is within 6 hours to your next dose, then skip the missed dose and go back to your normal schedule.  Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
  • Handling: Wash your hands after handling your medicine, your caretakers should not handle your medicine with bare hands and should wear latex gloves.
  • This drug may be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, urine, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions. Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.
  • Storage: Store this medicine in the original container at room temperature. Discuss with your nurse or your doctor how to dispose of unused medicine.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
  • If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • If you get diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods that are high in protein and calories and avoid foods that can irritate your digestive tracts or lead to cramping.
  • Ask your nurse or doctor about medicine that can lessen or stop your diarrhea or constipation.
  • If you are not able to move your bowels, check with your doctor or nurse before you use enemas, laxatives, or suppositories.
  • To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
  • Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day. Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
  • If you have numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.
  • If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying.

Food and drug Interactions

  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this medicine.  Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may raise the levels of crizotinib in your body. This could make side effects worse.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and dietary supplements you are taking before starting this medicine as there are a lot of known drug interactions with crizotinib. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplement to make sure that there are no interactions.
  • Avoid the use of St. John’s Wort while taking crizotinib as this may lower the levels of the drug in your body, which can make it less effective.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • You cough up yellow, green, or bloody mucus
  • Pain in your chest
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times a day or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
  • No bowel movement in 3 days or when you feel uncomfortable
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain your hands and feet
  • Signs of possible liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • If you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug can have harmful effects on the unborn baby. Women of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for at least 45 days after treatment. Men with female partners of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for at least 3 months after your cancer treatment. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner.
  • Breastfeeding warning: Women should not breast feed during treatment and for 45 days after treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children in the future. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Revised November 2017