Vorinostat (Zolinza®)

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About This Drug

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

Possible Side Effects

  • A decrease in the number of platelets. This may raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea (loose bowel movements)
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Changes in the way food and drinks taste

Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 20% or greater of patients treated with vorinostat. Not all possible side effects are included above.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Blood clots. A blood clot in your leg may cause your leg to swell, appear red and warm, and/or cause pain. A blood clot in your lungs may cause trouble breathing, pain when breathing, and/or chest pain.
  • Blood sugar levels may change
  • Electrolyte changes
  • In addition to a decrease in platelets, this drug may cause a decrease in the number of red blood cells. This may make you more tired.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may be severe and may require treatment to prevent dehydration

Note: Some of the side effects above 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 food. Do not open or crush the capsules.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you think about it, unless it is almost time for your next dose. If it is close to your next dose, then skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. 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.
  • If you get any of the content of a broken capsules on your skin or in your eyes, you should wash the area of the skin well with soap and water right away 
  • 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

  • Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day.
  • Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
  • To decrease risk of bleeding, use a soft toothbrush. Check with your nurse before using dental floss.
  • Be very careful when using knives or tools.
  • Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight, 8- ounce 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 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Taking good care of your mouth may help food taste better and improve your appetite.
  • If you have diabetes, keep good control of your blood sugar level. Tell your nurse or your doctor if your glucose levels are higher or lower than normal.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • There are no known interactions of vorinostat with food, however, this medication should be taken with food.
  • 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 vorinostat. 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.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are taking warfarin, you may need more frequent blood work to monitor your warfarin.
  • Certain types of medications called HDAC inhibitors can interact with vorinostat and put you at an increased risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor if you are taking a HDAC inhibitor, or if you do not know if you are taking an HDAC inhibitor.

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
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Tiredness that interferes with your daily activities
  • Your leg or arm is swollen, red, warm and/or painful
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause. If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicine
  • 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
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Abnormal blood sugar
  • Unusual thirst, passing urine often, headache, sweating, shakiness, irritability
  • If you think you are 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 6 months after treatment. Men with female partners of childbearing 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 breastfeed during treatment and for at least 1 week after treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and cause harm to a  breastfeeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: In women, 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 March 2019

This patient information was developed by Via Oncology, LLC © 2018. 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.