Other Names: Gilotrif®
About This Drug
Afatinib is a drug used to treat cancer. It is given orally (by mouth).
Possible Side Effects
Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 20% or greater of patients treated with afatinib. Not all possible side effects are included above.
- Nausea and vomiting (throwing up)
- Diarrhea (loose bowel movements)
- Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
- Acneiform dermatitis (pimple like rash)
- Dry skin
- Inflammation/infection of the tissue around your nails
- Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that hurt.
Warnings and Precautions
- Severe skin reactions such as a rash with fluid-filled bumps/blisters, which sometimes can be weeping (peeling off)
- Scarring and/or inflammation (swelling) of the lungs. You may have a dry cough or trouble breathing.
- Changes in your liver function, which can cause liver failure.
- Severe diarrhea which can cause dehydration (lack of water in the body from losing too much fluid) and changes in kidney function
- Blurred vision, eye irritation, sensitivity to light and/or other changes in eyesight
Note: Some of the side effects above are very rare. If you have concerns and/or questions, please discuss them with your medical team.
- Your doctor may prescribe you medication to decrease your diarrhea. Please call your doctor or nurse as soon as you develop diarrhea and/or if your diarrhea does not improve or becomes worst.
How to Take Your Medication
- Take this drug by mouth without food, at least 1 hour before you eat or 2 hours after you eat.
- Missed dose: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you think about it ONLY if your next dose is due in more than 12 hours. If your next dose is due in LESS than 12 hours, then skip the missed dose and contact your physician.
- If you vomit a dose, take your next dose at the regular time, and contact your physician. Do not take 2 doses at the same time and do not double up on the next dose.
- 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. Protect from high humidity and light.
- Disposal of unused medicine: Do not flush any expired and/or unused medicine down the toilet or drain unless you are specifically instructed to do so on the medication label. Some facilities have take-back programs and/or other options. If you do not have a take-back program in your area, then please 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 of water in the body from losing too much fluid).
- If you have 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.
- 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 stop or lessen these symptoms.
- Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of routine, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after each meal and at bedtime.
- If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that has alcohol. Also avoid alcohol and smoking because they can bother your mouth and throat.
- To help with decreased appetite, eat foods high in calories and protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, tofu, eggs, nuts, milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, pudding, and nutritional supplements.
- Consider using sauces and spices to increase taste. Daily exercise, with your doctor’s approval, may increase your appetite.
- Avoid sun exposure and apply sunscreen routinely when outdoors
- Cover up when you are out in the sun. Wear wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. Keep your neck, chest, and back covered.
- Moisturize your skin several times day.
- If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
Food and Drug Interactions
- There are no known interactions of afatinib with food, however this medication should be taken on an empty stomach.
- Avoid the use of St. John’s Wort while taking afatinib as this may lower the levels of the drug in your body, which can make it less effective
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) you are taking before starting this medicine as there are known drug interactions with afatinib. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplements to make sure that there are no interactions.
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 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
- Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
- Red or painful eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Pain in your chest
- Dry cough
- Trouble breathing
- Diarrhea, 4 times in one day or diarrhea with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
- Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
- Throwing up more than 3 times a day
- Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
- Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
- Tiredness that interferes with your daily activities
- New rash and/or itching
- Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
- Signs of inflammation/infection (redness, swelling, pain) of the tissue around your nails.
- 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
- If you think you may be pregnant
- 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 2 weeks after treatment. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant.
- Breastfeeding warning: Women should not breastfeed during treatment and for 2 weeks after treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breastfeeding 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 June 2019
This patient information was developed by Via Oncology, LLC © 2019. This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have.
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