Crizotinib

Other Names: Xalkori®

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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
  • Nausea and vomiting (throwing up)
  • Diarrhea (loose bowel movements)
  • Constipation (not able to move bowels)
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet 
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in your liver function
  • Electrolyte changes
  • Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Feeling dizzy
  • 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.
  • Upper respiratory infection 

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 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
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Loss of eyesight and blindness

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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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 stop or lessen these symptoms.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking this medicine as it may raise the levels of crizotinib in your body which could make side effects worse.
  • 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 crizotinib. 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.
  • 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 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight 
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Coughing up yellow, green, or bloody mucus
  • Dry cough
  • Pain in your chest
  • Tiredness 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
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Diarrhea, 4 times in one day or diarrhea 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 in 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
  • 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 childbearing 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 childbearing potential should use condoms during your cancer treatment and for at least 90 days 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 breastfeed during treatment and for 45 days 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. CLIENT acknowledges that the Via Pathways and Via Portal are information management tools only, and that Via Oncology, LLC has not represented the Via Pathways or Via Portal as having the ability to diagnose disease, prescribe treatment, or perform any other tasks that constitute the practice of medicine. The clinical information contained in the Via Pathways and Via Portal are intended as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the knowledge, expertise, skill, and judgment of physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals involved with patient care at CLIENT facilities.