Although Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) is used to treat cancer, it is not a form of chemotherapy. It is a type of hormone therapy that is used along with prednisone and other drugs and treatments to treat prostate cancer that has metastasized.
Zytiga is classified as androgen biosynthesis inhibitors or antiandrogens that lower the amount of androgen (male hormone) produced in the body. Reduced levels of androgen such as testosterone help slow or stop the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Doctors will regularly check you while taking abiraterone acetate to monitor side effects and response to therapy.
What is Zytiga used for?
Zytiga is used for the treatment of prostate cancer in men who cannot be treated with surgery or other therapies, and often used in cases where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body in men who have received prior chemotherapy. It is used in combination with steroid medication prednisone or methylprednisolone to reduce the risk of certain side effects.
Zytiga is used to treat men with two types of prostate cancer.
- Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC): Cancer continues to grow and spread even after therapy or surgery to lower testosterone levels
- Metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer: Cancer responds to lowered testosterone levels but requires more aggressive treatment
Yonsa (abiraterone acetate) is used to treat men who have CRPC. The use of abiraterone acetate in the treatment of other types of cancer is being studied.
How is Zytiga taken?
Abiraterone acetate can be taken in the following ways:
- As oral tablets that should be taken one time a day.
- Should be taken on an empty stomach with water, 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating any food.
- Should be swallowed whole with water and not split, chewed, or crushed.
- Must be taken at about the same time every day.
- Should be taken in exactly the same dose and schedule as prescribed.
- If a dose is missed, the regular dose should be taken the next day. If more than one dose is missed, your doctor should be notified.
- Do not stop taking abiraterone acetate or prednisone without consulting your doctor.
What are side effects of Zytiga?
Abiraterone acetate can cause mild or serious side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Abnormal liver function test or other blood tests
- Upper respiratory tract symptoms such as cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, and sneezing
- Feeling very weak or tired
- Fluid retention
- High blood sugar levels
- Hot flushes or a sudden feeling of body heat
- Increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
- Increased liver enzymes
- Infected sinuses
- Joint pain, swelling, or stiffness
- Low blood potassium levels
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Painful urination
- Swelling in the legs or feet
Most effects go away after the therapy is complete. However, if the side effects worsen or do not subside, talk to your doctor.
What are potentially serious side effects of Zytiga?
Serious side effects of abiraterone acetate vary in how frequently they occur. The following symptoms require medical attention:
- Bloody urine or darkening urine color
- Difficult, painful, or frequent urination
- Extreme fatigue
- Fast or irregular heartbeats
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness or aches
- Pain in legs
- Pain in the abdomen
- Severe headache, pounding in the neck or ears, or blurred vision
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Urinary tract infections
- Severe diarrhea
- Unusual elevation in blood pressure
- Bloody stools or black tarry stools
Seek emergency medical care if you notice the following:
- Fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher and chills
- Chest pain or irregular heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Inability to urinate for 8 hours or more
- Allergic reaction:
What precautions should be taken before taking abiraterone acetate?
Before starting abiraterone acetate treatment, tell your doctor about existing medical conditions and your medication history:
- Liver disease
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Low levels of potassium in the blood
- History of adrenal problems
- History of pituitary problems
- Allergy to abiraterone acetate or any other medications or ingredients
- Other treatments for prostate cancer
- All medications and supplements being taken (do not start or stop any without discussing with your doctor)
Self-care tips while taking abiraterone acetate include:
- Minimize or completely avoid drinking alcohol
- Get plenty of rest
- Maintain good nutrition
The medication should be kept in the same container it came in—tightly closed and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature away from excessive heat and moisture.
Who should avoid using abiraterone acetate?
Abiraterone acetate is used only in men and should not be used in women or children.
Abiraterone acetate tablets should not be touched without protection (gloves) by a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant because medicine from a broken or crushed tablet could be absorbed through the skin.
Abiraterone acetate can harm an unborn baby if the father is taking the medicine at the time of conception or during pregnancy. Men with female partners who are pregnant or may become pregnant should use effective birth control 3 weeks after the last dose of abiraterone acetate.
This medication may reduce fertility in men. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking abiraterone acetate.
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