Capecitabine and Irinotecan (XELIRI)

Capecitabine (Xeloda) and Irinotecan are chemotherapy medications. These chemotherapy drugs destroy quickly dividing cells, such as cancer cells.

This treatment combination (called “XELIRI”) is very effective for a wide variety of cancers. In today’s day and age, most of the side effects of chemotherapy can be effectively managed by your cancer team, making this tried and trusted treatment combination very useful.

Depending on the context, Capecitabine and Irinotecan (XELIRI) can be used for:

Irinotecan is a clear yellow fluid given as an intravenous drip into the arm or hand. A small tube (a cannula) is put into one of the veins which connects the drip to it. You might need a central line, a long plastic tube that puts the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

Capecitabine comes as a tablet that you swallow whole, with plenty of water. Take the tablets within 30 minutes of finishing a meal. Ask the doctor about the dose of capecitabine. You might have 2 different strengths of tablets to make up the correct dose. 

Irinotecan and capecitabine chemotherapy is given as cycles of treatment. Each cycle lasts 2 or 3 weeks. It is given as long as it controls cancer. 

Two-week cycle

Day 1

Irinotecan is given as a 30-minute drip into your bloodstream.

Take capecitabine tablets twice a day.

Day 2 to 7

Take capecitabine tablets twice a day.

Day 8 to 15

No treatment.

Start the next treatment cycle. 

Three-week cycle

Day 1

Irinotecan is given as a 30-minute drip into your bloodstream.

Take capecitabine tablets twice a day.

Day 2 to 14

Take capecitabine tablets twice a day.

Day 15 to 21

No treatment.

You then start your next treatment cycle. 

Now, let’s learn about the side effects of each of these chemotherapy medications. This will help you maximize the benefits and reduce the risk of harm.

Read more about folfiri and bevacizumab here:

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