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Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Abemaciclib

(a bem a SYE klib)

Trade Name(s): Verzenio

Abemaciclib is the generic name for the trade name drug Verzenio. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Verzenio when referring to the generic drug name Abemaciclib.

Drug Type: Abemaciclib is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic") drug. This medication is classified as "Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor" (for more detail, see "How Abemaciclib Works" below).

What Abemeciclib Is Used For

  • Advanced or metastatic breast cancer

Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.

How Abemaciclib Is Given

  • A tablet by mouth twice a day at approximately the same time each day.
  • If you miss a dose take the next dose at the next scheduled time.
  • Swallow tablets whole. Do not chew, crush or split the tablet before swallowing.
  • May be taken with or without food.
  • Avoid grapefruit while on treatment with abemaciclib.

The amount of Abemaciclib that you will receive depends on many factors, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact dosage and schedule.

Side Effects

Important things to remember about the side effects of Abemaciclib:

  • Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
  • Abemaciclib side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration, and severity.
  • Abemaciclib side effects will improve after therapy is complete.
  • Abemaciclib side effects may be quite manageable. There are many options to minimize or prevent the side effects of Abemaciclib.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Abemaciclib:

These are less common side effects (occurring in 10-29%) for patients receiving Abemaciclib:

Not all side effects are listed above. Side effects that are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not listed here. But you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

When to Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider

Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
  • Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
  • Loose stools
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
  • Pain on the upper right side of your stomach area (abdomen)
  • Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
  • Swelling, redness and/or pain in one leg or arm and not the other

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Precautions

  • Before starting Abemaciclib treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.). Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.
  • Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval while taking Abemaciclib.
  • Do not become pregnant while taking Abemaciclib. Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment. Abemaciclib may be hazardous to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the fetus. If a woman becomes pregnant while taking Abemaciclib, the medication must be stopped immediately and the woman given appropriate counseling.
  • For both men and women: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking Abemaciclib. Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended for up to 3 weeks after last dose of Abemaciclib.
  • Do not breast feed while taking Abemaciclib or for 3 weeks after stopping the medication.

Self-Care Tips

  • Follow regimen of anti-diarrhea medication as prescribed by your health care professional. You should begin to take anti-diarrhea medication at the first sign of loose stool.
  • Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
  • You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
  • To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctors, and eat small, frequent meals.
  • Eat foods that may help reduce diarrhea (see managing side effects - diarrhea).
  • In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • Remain active as you are able. Gentle exercise is encouraged such as a daily walk.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.

Monitoring and Testing While Taking Abemaciclib

You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking Abemaciclib, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work will be obtained to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of other organs (such as your kidneys and liver) will also be ordered by your doctor.

How Abemaciclib Works

Targeted therapy is the result of about 100 years of research dedicated to understanding the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. To date, cancer treatment has focused primarily on killing rapidly dividing cells because one feature of cancer cells is that they divide rapidly. Unfortunately, some of our normal cell divide rapidly too, causing multiple side effects.

Targeted therapy is about identifying the other features of cancer cells. Scientists look for specific differences in the cancer cells and the normal cells. This information is used to create a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without damaging the normal cells, thus leading to fewer side effects. Each type of targeted therapy works a little bit differently but all interfere with the ability of the cancer cell to grow, divide, repair and/or communicate with other cells.

There are different types of targeted therapies, defined in three broad categories. Some targeted therapies use small molecules that can get into the cell and disrupt the function of the cells, causing them to die. There are several types of targeted therapy that focus on the inner parts of the cells.

Abemaciclib is a drug that can be used alone or along with fulvestrant to treat women with advanced hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Abemaciclib is a reversible small molecule cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor. The drug blocks proteins in the cell called cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4 and CDK 6. In hormone positive breast cancer cells, blocking these proteins helps stop the cells from dividing to make new cells. It helps prevent the cells from moving from G1 to S cell cycle phase in the division process. This slows cancer growth.

Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

Reference:

Abemaciclib. Lexicomp Online® [updated 2018 February 9; cited 2018 February 19]. Lexi-Drugs®. Hudson, Ohio: Lexi-Comp, Inc.; February 19, 2018.

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