Sunitinib (Sutent)

The basics

Sunitinib (brand name- Sutent) is an FDA-approved treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC, a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the kidneys), gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST; a type of tumor that grows in the stomach, intestine (bowel), or oesophagus (the tube that connects the throat with the stomach) for people with tumors that were not treated successfully with imatinib (Gleevec) or people who cannot take imatinib.

It is also used to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET, a type of tumor that begins in certain cells of the pancreas) in people with tumors that have worsened and cannot be treated with surgery.

Sunitinib is in a class of medications called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI or “targeted therapy”). It works by blocking the action of the abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply. This helps stop or slow the spread of cancer cells and may help shrink tumors.

Let us walk you through the key things you need to know about sunitinib

Make sure you read the IMPORTANT WARNING at the end of this article.

How should I take sunitinib (Sutent)?

Ankr helps take oral chemotherapy on time

Sunitinib comes as a capsule to take by mouth once daily with or without food. Take sunitinib at around the same time every day. Take sunitinib exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Swallow the capsules whole; do not split, chew, or crush them. Do not open the capsules.

You may need to take one or more capsules at a time depending on your dose of sunitinib. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment.

Continue to take sunitinib even if you feel well. Do not stop taking sunitinib without talking to your doctor. You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.

What are the side effects of sunitinib (Sutent)?

Common side effects

Serious side effects

  • frequent nosebleeds
  • bleeding from your gums
  • unusual discomfort in cold temperatures
  • osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ, a serious condition of the jaw bone)
  • seizures
  • vision changes
  • chest pain or pressure
  • extreme tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • pain with deep breathing
  • decreased urination
  • cloudy urine
  • swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • hoarseness
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • bloody or black and tarry stools
  • blood in the urine
  • vomit that is bright red or looks like coffee grounds
  • coughing up blood
  • slow speech
  • stomach pain, swelling, or tenderness
  • rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • dizziness or fainting
  • decreased alertness or concentration
  • confusion
  • depression
  • nervousness
  • heavy, irregular, or missed menstrual periods

Sunitinib 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 or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Use the free Ankr platform or Ankr app to track your symptoms.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking sunitinib (Sutent)

  • tell your doctor about your allergies
  • tell your doctor about other intakes
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any other disease, symptom, or treatment
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or if you plan to father a child. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that you can use during your treatment.

While you are on sunitinib (Sutent)

  • If you or your partner become pregnant while taking sunitinib, call your doctor. Sunitinib may harm the fetus.
  • tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed during your treatment with sunitinib and for 4 weeks after your final dose.
  • if you are having surgery tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking sunitinib.
  • talk to your doctor before having any dental treatments while you are taking this medication.

I forgot a dose. What should I do?

If you miss a dose of sunitinib by less than 12 hours, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it and then take the next dose at the scheduled time. However, if you miss a dose by more than 12 hours, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

In case of an emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

How should I safely store & dispose of sunitinib (Sutent)

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

You should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this medication.

Brand Names

  • Sutent®

Last Revised – 12/26/2023, FDA updated-03/16/2022, SG

Sunitinib may cause serious or life-threatening damage to the liver. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver disease or problems with your liver. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: itching, yellow eyes and skin, dark urine, or pain or discomfort in the right upper stomach area. Your doctor may have to decrease your dose of sunitinib or permanently or temporarily stop your treatment.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain blood tests before and during your treatment to be sure that it is safe for you to take sunitinib and to check your body’s response to the medication.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer’s patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with sunitinib and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website ( or the manufacturer’s website to obtain the Medication Guide.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking sunitinib.

Get 24×7 support for sunitinib (Sutent)

Don’t go through your cancer journey alone. Use Ankr to:
(1) find the best treatment for your cancer, and
(2) get advanced warning to cut side effects by upto 52%

Sign up for a free 30-day trial now

Did you like this content?

Tell us how we can improve this post?

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.

↑ Back to top