Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Generic Name: Ixabepilone
Ixempra is the trade name for the generic chemotherapy drug Ixabepilone.
In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Ixempra when referring
to the generic drug name Ixabepilone.
Ixempra is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy drug. Ixempra
is classified as an "antimicrotubule agent" or an "epothilone B analog".
What Ixempra Is Used For:
Ixempra is used in the treatment of metastatic or locally-advanced 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 Ixempra Is Given:
- Ixempra is given as an infusion into the vein (intravenous, IV).
- The amount of Ixempra that you will receive depends on many factors, including
your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type
of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact Ixempra dosage
Important things to remember about the side effects of Ixempra:
- Most people will not experience all of the Ixempra side effects listed.
- Ixempra side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration, and
- Ixempra side effects will improve after therapy is complete.
- Ixempra side effects may be quite manageable. There are many options to minimize
or prevent the side effects of Ixempra.
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients
These are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) of patients receiving
This list includes common and less common side effects for those taking Ixempra.
Ixempra side effects that are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent
of patients -- are not listed here. Always inform your health care provider if you
experience any unusual symptoms.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Ixempra is given by intravenous infusion and you will be monitored during
each infusion. Report to the nurse immediately:
- Unusual chest tightness, difficulty breathing or swallowing, itching or skin rash,
back pain or headache
- Redness, swelling or pain at the infusion site
Contact your doctor or health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should
experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher, chills (possible
signs of infection)
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact
your doctor or health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed
Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
- Difficulty breathing or unusual cough
- Swelling of feet and/or legs, sudden weight gain
- Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs
such as: tiredness, thirst, dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or dizziness.
Always inform your doctor or health care provider if you experience any unusual
- Before starting Ixempra treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any
other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins,
herbal remedies, etc.). While taking Ixempra do not
take aspirin or products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits
- Do not drink grapefruit juice while recieving Ixempra. Drinking grapefruit
juice may cause you to have too much Ixempra in your blood and lead to side effects.
- While taking Ixempra, do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without
your doctor’s approval.
- For both men and women: Use contraceptives and do not conceive a child (get pregnant)
while taking Ixempra. Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms are recommended.
Discuss with your doctor or nurse what type of birth control would be safe for you
- Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (ixabepilone may be
hazardous to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be
advised of the potential hazard to the fetus).
- Do not breast feed while taking Ixempra.
- While taking Ixempra, try to drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24
hours, (particularly the 24 hours before and 48 hours following the infusion) 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.
- To help treat/prevent mouth sores while taking Ixempra, use a soft toothbrush, and
rinse three times a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and
eat small, frequent meals while taking Ixempra.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
- You may experience drowsiness or dizziness; avoid
driving or engaging in tasks that require alertness until your response to the drug
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided
completely while you are taking Ixempra. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition while being treated with Ixempra.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects while being treated with Ixempra, 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:
You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking Ixempra 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).
How Ixempra Works:
Cancerous tumors are characterized by cell division,
which is no longer controlled as it is in normal tissue. "Normal" cells stop
dividing when they come into contact with like cells, a mechanism known as contact
inhibition. Cancerous cells lose this ability. Cancer cells no longer
have the normal checks and balances in place that control and limit cell division.
The process of cell division, whether normal or cancerous cells, is through the
cell cycle. The cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing
phases, and then to mitosis (division).
The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt
cell division. Usually, the drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells
the cell how to copy itself in division. If the cells are unable to divide,
they die. The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy
will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink. They also induce cell suicide
(self-death or apoptosis).
Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells only when they are dividing are called cell-cycle
specific. Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells when they are at rest are called
cell-cycle non-specific. The scheduling of chemotherapy is set based on the
type of cells, rate at which they divide, and the time at which a given drug is
likely to be effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.
Chemotherapy is most effective at killing cells that are rapidly dividing.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between the cancerous cells
and the normal cells. The "normal" cells will grow back and be healthy but in the
meantime, side effects occur. The "normal" cells most commonly affected by
chemotherapy are the blood cells, the cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and
the hair follicles; resulting in low blood counts, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea,
and/or hair loss. Different drugs may affect different parts of the body.
Chemotherapy (anti-neoplastic drugs) is divided into five classes based on how they
work to kill cancer. Although these drugs are divided into groups, there is
some overlap among some of the specific drugs.
Ixempra is an antimicrotubule agent. It is cell cycle specific. It acts
on the microtubule structure and function of the cell by attaching to a section
of the microtubule. This stabilizes the microtubular function, and stops
the cell from continuing in its cycle thus causing cell death.
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.
Chemocare.com is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit www.4thangel.org