Nilotinib is used for the treatment of a certain type of blood cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). It is a disease in which the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells. In which it may affect red and white blood cells as well as the platelets. CML is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease that usually happens during or after middle age. It rarely occurs in children. CML is possible when something goes awry in the genes of your bone marrow cells. This condition often doesn’t cause signs and symptoms. It might be detected during a blood test. When they occur, signs and symptoms may include:
- Easy bleeding
- Bone pain
- Feeling run-down or tired
- Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Weight loss without trying
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss without trying
- Excessive sweating during sleep (night sweats)
- Pain or fullness below the ribs on the left side
Leukemia is different from other types of cancer that start in organs like the colon, lungs, or breast and then spread to the bone marrow. Cancers that start in another part of the body and then spread to the bone marrow are not leukemia.
Nilotinib is a type of anticancer medicine called a protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor. This helps stop and slow the growth of cancer cells. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication. Nilotinib comes as a capsule with the dosage strengths of 50 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg for oral use.
How does Nilotinib work?
Nilotinib interferes with the pathways that signal certain types of cancer cells to grow. This targets the abnormal protein that is made by the abnormal Philadelphia chromosome. This drug blocks the action of this protein, which stops the cancerous cells from growing. The cancerous cells then die.
Leukemia is a type of cancer that happens when a cancerous change in a white blood cell is produced. CML affects white blood cells called granulocytes. In this type of leukemia, the cancerous change often involves an abnormal rearrangement of the chromosomes in the white blood cells. Leukemic blood cells often have an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome, as well as other abnormal chromosomal arrangements. The abnormal chromosomes disturb the normal control of the way the blood cells divide and multiply. They cause an abnormal protein to be produced on the blood cells called Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase. This protein makes the white blood cells multiply without restraint. It dramatically increases the number produced by the bone marrow.
Nilotinib only acts on cancerous cells because these are the only cells that carry the abnormal tyrosine kinase. This means Nilotinib stops the growth of the abnormal cancerous cells while having little effect on the growth of normal healthy cells.
How to use Nilotinib?
Nilotinib is to be taken by mouth usually twice a day about 12 hours apart. Each dose is taken on an empty stomach or as directed by your doctor. Swallow the capsule as a whole with a full glass of water. Do not open or chew it. Do not eat any food for at least 2 hours before or an hour after taking your dose. Taking this with food might increase the amount of drug in your body and increase the risk of serious side effects. If you cannot swallow the capsule, it may be opened and the contents sprinkled in 1 teaspoon of applesauce. This mixture should be swallowed right away. Use only 1 teaspoon of applesauce. Do not sprinkle the contents onto other types of food. Drink plenty of fluids during treatment with this medication, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, laboratory tests, and other medications you may be taking. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and the risk of serious side effects may be increased. Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while being treated with this medication unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Grapefruit can increase the number of certain medications in your bloodstream.
What are the side effects of Nilotinib?
Common side effects:
- Skin rash
- Joint or muscle aches or pain
- Back pain
- Temporary hair loss
- Cold symptoms (sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat, or cough)
Tell your doctor right away if these side effects occur:
- Toe or joint pain
- Severe stomach or abdominal pain
- Painful urination
- Swelling ankles, hands, or feet
- A change in the amount of urine
- Unusual or rapid weight gain
- Signs of liver disease (stomach pain, persistent vomiting, dark urine, or yellowing eyes or skin)
- Symptoms of high blood sugar (urination or increased thirst)
Call for medical help if you experience signs of an allergic reaction including:
- Difficulty or trouble breathing
- Swelling in your lips, throat, face, or mouth
Warnings and Precautions
- If you are pregnant, breastfeeding women, or get pregnant while having this treatment call your doctor right away for a consultation.
- This medicine may cause dizziness or blurred vision that could affect your ability to perform hazardous activities safely. You should take extra care when driving until you know how it affects you.
- If you ever had an allergic reaction to this medication, let your doctor know. Tell as well if you have any allergies. This drug may contain an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction.
- If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor right away.
- Nilotinib should be sued with caution in people with decreased liver function, slow heart rate, history of heart disease, with a low level of magnesium and potassium in their blood, or with pancreatitis.
- This is not recommended for use in children and adolescents under 18 years old.
- Let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications including vitamins or herbal supplements.
- If you missed a dose of this prescription, call your doctor right away for instructions.