Sunitinib (Sutent®, SU11248)

Warning : This prescription drug may cause numerous severe side effects. You should be aware of all the side effects you could experience in case they do happen, so that you can recognize them quickly and notify your doctor immediately.


If you experience any signs of liver problems; such as darkened urine, severe stomach pain, yellowing of your eyes or skin, or any nausea or vomiting; you should tell your physician immediately and seek medical attention right away. The drug may also affect your heart rhythm, which can cause an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, or fainting. If you have any of these symptoms, you should also seek medical help for this.

You may also want to avoid activities that can cause cuts, bruises, or other types of infections. This drug can make you more sensitive to easy bruising, severe bleeding, and infections. Take steps to prevent infections but if you do experience symptoms of an infection, call your doctor’s office. 

Indications : Sutent is an advanced drug used to treat cancer patients. It may only be recommended by a physician who is managing your care. It is commonly prescribed for patients diagnosed with:

  • Kidney cancer
  • Intestinal cancer
  • pancreatic cancer.

Dosage: This drug is taken orally according to a pharmacist or doctor’s instruction. Basing on your condition, age and body surface area (BSA), your physician will determine the most effective dosage to combat the disease. Take the medication exactly as directed by your doctor, pharmacist or according to the directions on the prescription. Misusing Sunitinib may not only affect its curative effect but also cause serious health problems.

Usually, the recommended dose is 50 mg, taken by mouth once daily for 4 weeks; each dosing cycle is followed by a 2-week break. Sunitinib can be taken with or without food; however, it is recommended to take it around the same time every day. Do not open, chew or crush the capsules; swallow each capsule whole. If you experience adverse effects, do not change or stop taking the medication without first consulting your doctor.

Overdose: chemotherapy drugs are strong; overdosing any of them can be fatal. The risk is even higher when the drug is overdosed for a long period of time. In fact, overdosing of certain chemotherapy drugs, including Sunitinib, can lead to death. Even in the absence of overdose, Sunitinib tend to affect the bone marrow, and lead to decreased blood cells count. It is extremely important that you take Sunitinib as indicated by your physician or pharmacist; don’t ever take more.

Missing dose: do your best to take the drug around the same time every day; do not miss or take less of it. In case you forget to take a dose, take the missed one as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not double the next dose to recover the missed one; it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule.

Storage:keep Sunitinib tightly closed in the container it came, out of the reach of children. Store the medication at room temperature, away from heat, light and moisture. Sunitinib and all other medications should not be used beyond the expiration date printed on the container.

Contraindications : You should tell your doctor if you have had any liver problems in the past, related to this drug or otherwise. Also tell your doctor if you have taken this medication before and whether there were any severe side effects. Discuss all of your medical history with your physician, including any bleeding problems, high blood pressure, heart issues, thyroid diseases, and any other conditions. You should try to avoid taking this drug while pregnant or while breast-feeding. Tell your physician if you believe any of these conditions apply to you.

Interactions : This medication has been known to interact with several other types of medications. If your doctor is recommending Sutent for your treatment, there is a good chance that you are taking other medicines that may interact. Harmful interactions can cause the effect of any of your medications to decrease, or it may cause the side effects of any medicine to become more severe. Some common interacting medicines include sotalol, quinidine, pimozide, blood thinners, some antibiotics, amiodarone, and others. Another side effect of interactions may be an irregular heart rhythm, which you should tell your doctor about immediately. Discuss all of your current medicines with your doctor before proceeding with this medication.

Side effects: In addition to attacking cancer cells, Sunitinib also interfere with certain normal cells, leading to the development of number of adverse effects. Most common Sunitinib side effects include:

  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • gas and/or heartburn
  • sores on your lips or mouth
  • dry mouth
  • change in taste
  • decreased appetite
  • slow speech
  • depression
  • skin rash
  • muscle or limb pain
  • Pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • infection: fever, sore throat, chills…
  • rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • black and tarry stools
  • blood in stools or/and urine
  • bloody vomit
  • sudden weight gain
  • chest pain
  • stomach pain or swelling
  • swelling of your feet or ankles
  • swelling, tenderness, warmth, or redness of a leg
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Coughing up bloody mucus

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