Abiraterone (Zytiga)

Abiraterone (Zytiga) Basics

Brand names

  • Zytiga®
Uses for Abiraterone (Zytiga)

Abiraterone (zytiga) is used in combination with prednisone to treat a certain type of prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Abiraterone is in a class of medications called androgen biosynthesis inhibitors. It works by decreasing the amount of certain hormones in the body.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is Abiraterone (Zytiga) given?
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Abiraterone comes as a tablet to take by mouth on an empty stomach with water, 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating any food. It is usually taken once or twice a day. Take abiraterone at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take abiraterone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Swallow the tablets whole with water; do not split, chew, or crush them.

Continue to take abiraterone even if you feel well. Do not stop taking abiraterone or prednisone without talking to your doctor.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.

Side Effects of Abiraterone (Zytiga)

Abiraterone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • joint swelling or pain
  • groin pain
  • hot flashes (a sudden wave of mild or intense body heat)
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • cough
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
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Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • dizziness
  • feeling faint or lightheaded
  • headache
  • confusion
  • fast or irregular heartbeats
  • muscle weakness or aches
  • leg pain
  • swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • rash
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • extreme tiredness
  • lack of energy
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • flu-like symptoms such as fever
  • blood in urine
  • difficult, painful, or frequent urination
  • bone fracture

Abiraterone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Precautions to take for Abiraterone (Zytiga)

Before taking Abiraterone,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to abiraterone, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in abiraterone tablets. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: dextromethorphan; certain medications for seizures such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol), phenobarbital, and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); ketoconazole; nefazodone; pioglitazone (Actos); rifabutin (Mycobutin); rifampin (Rifadin, in Rifamate, in Rifater, Rimactane); rifapentine (Priftin); and thioridazine. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Many other medications may also interact with abiraterone, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
  • Tell your doctor if you have an infection, a low level of potassium in your blood, or are experiencing unusual stress, have had a recent heart attack, or if you have or have ever had adrenal or pituitary gland problems, heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, including QT prolongation (an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to fainting, loss of consciousness, seizures, or sudden death), high blood pressure, or heart or liver disease.
  • You should know that abiraterone is only for use in men. Women should not take this medication, especially if they are or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding. If taken by pregnant women, abiraterone may harm the fetus. Women who are, could become, or may be pregnant should not touch abiraterone tablets without protective gloves. If a pregnant woman takes or touches abiraterone tablets, she should call her doctor immediately.
  • Men with a female partner taking abiraterone must use effective contraception during treatment and for 3 weeks after the final dose. Talk to your doctor about the types of birth control that are right for you.
  • You should know that this medication may decrease fertility in men. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking abiraterone.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Self care tips for Abiraterone (Zytiga)
  • Zytiga® and prednisone are to be used together and neither medication should be interrupted or stopped unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Take the medication exactly as directed at the same time each day on an empty stomach
  • You will need to continue receiving your LHRH/GnRH agonists injections (ie Zoladex®, Lupron®, Trelstar®, etc) throughout treatment with Zytiga®.
  • If you are experiencing hot flashes, wear light clothing, stay in a cool environment to try and reduce symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider if these worsen or become intolerable.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • 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
How does Abiraterone (Zytiga) work?

Hormones are chemical substances that are produced by glands in the body, which enter the bloodstream and cause effects in other tissues. The use of hormone therapy to treat cancer is based on the observation that receptors for specific hormones that are needed for cell growth are on the surface of some tumor cells. Hormone therapy can work by stopping the production of a certain hormone, blocking hormone receptors or substituting chemically similar agents for the active hormone, which cannot be used by the tumor cell. Different types of hormone therapies are categorized by their function and/or the type of hormone that is affected.

The growth of prostate cancer is stimulated by male hormones (androgens / testosterone). Decreasing the production of these hormones is critical in helping men fight prostate cancer. Androgens are primarily made by the testicles and adrenal glands. However, in men with advanced prostate cancer, the metastatic tumors themselves have the capability to produce testosterone. Generally, prostate cancer responds to treatment that decreases androgen levels. Many androgen deprivation therapies, decrease androgen production by the testicles but do not affect androgen production elsewhere in the body, such as the adrenal glands or in the tumor.

Zytiga® works in a different manner than other androgen deprivation therapies. Zytiga® interferes with an enzyme that is expressed in testicular, adrenal, and prostatic tumor tissues and is required as part of the body’s androgen producing process. Because of this interference the amount of androgens produced are decreased. Zytiga®, blocks androgen production at three sources; the testes, the adrenal glands, as well as from the tumor itself.

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.

Last Revised – 08/15/2019

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DISCLAIMER: No part of this content constitutes medical advice, opinion, or should be used for medical decision making without consultation with a licenced medical practitioner and under a patient-provider relationship. All information on the website is provided without any claims of accuracy. For full terms and conditions, visit this link. Content curated by the Ankr team.

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