Cabozantinib (Cometriq®)

OncoLink
Last Modified: January 11, 2013

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Pronounced: ka" boe zan' ti nib
Classification: Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor

Facts about cabozantinib

Cabozantinib is a type of targeted therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. This means it works by targeting receptors present on the cancer cells. Cabozantinib targets several different receptors, which, in turn, blocks tumor growth and angiogenesis (the development of a blood supply to the tumor).

How to take cabozantinib

Cabozantinib comes in a capsule form in several dosage strengths. It is taken once a day on an empty stomach- you should not eat for 2 hours before or 1 hour after the dose. Swallow the capsules whole with a full glass (at least 8 ounces) of water; do not open capsules. Do not take a missed dose within 12 hours of the next scheduled dose, just skip that dose.

The blood levels of this medication can be affected by grapefruit, grapefruit juice, St. John’s wort and other medications. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all medications and supplements you take.

Side effects of cabozantinib

Below are some of the possible side effects and suggestions for dealing with them. Be sure to tell your oncology team if you are experiencing any of these problems.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) was seen in clinical trials. Patients should have their blood pressure checked regularly during therapy. Any hypertension should be treated appropriately. If hypertension cannot be controlled, the medication may be stopped.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be severe and can cause dangerous dehydration. Be sure to report diarrhea to your healthcare team.

Your oncology team can recommend medications to relieve diarrhea. Also, try eating low-fiber, bland foods, such as white rice and boiled or baked chicken. Avoid raw fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals and seeds. Soluble fiber is found in some foods and absorbs fluid, which can help relieve diarrhea. Foods high in soluble fiber include: applesauce, bananas (ripe), canned fruit, orange sections, boiled potatoes, white rice and products made with white flour, oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat, and farina. Drink 8-10 glasses on non-alcoholic, un-caffeinated fluid a day to prevent dehydration. Read Low Fiber Diet for Diarrhea for more tips.

Mouth Ulcers (Sores)

Certain cancer treatments can cause sores or soreness in your mouth and/or throat. Notify your doctor or nurse if your mouth, tongue, inside of your cheek or throat becomes white, ulcerated or painful. Performing regular mouth care can help prevent or manage mouth sores. If mouth sores become painful, your doctor or nurse can recommend a pain reliever.

  • Brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush or cotton swab twice a day.
  • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. A baking soda and/or salt warm water mouth rinse (2 level teaspoons of baking soda or 1 level teaspoon salt in an eight ounce glass of warm water) is recommended 4 times daily.
  • If your mouth becomes dry, eat moist foods, drink plenty of fluids (6-8 glasses), and suck on sugarless hard candy.
  • Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages and citrus juices.

Read the mouth ulcer tip sheet for more information.

Fatigue

While on cancer treatment you may need to adjust your schedule to manage fatigue. Plan times to rest during the day and conserve energy for more important activities. Exercise can help combat fatigue; a simple daily walk with a friend can help. Talk to your healthcare team and see OncoLink’s section on fatigue for helpful tips on dealing with this side effect.

Decrease in Appetite

Visit OncoLink's section on Nutrition for tips on dealing with this side effect. Ask your nurse about nutritional counseling services.

  • Try to eat five or six small meals or snacks throughout the day, instead of 3 larger meals.
  • If you are not eating enough, nutritional supplements may help.
  • You may experience a metallic taste or dislike foods or beverages that you liked before receiving chemotherapy. These symptoms can last up to several months.
  • Avoid any food that you think smells or tastes bad. If red meat is a problem, eat chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy products and fish without a strong smell.
  • Flavor meat or fish by marinating it in sweet juices, sweet and sour sauce or dressings. Use seasonings like basil, oregano or rosemary. Bacon, ham and onion can also add flavor to vegetables.

Hand and Foot Syndrome (HFS)

HFS is a skin reaction that appears on the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet as a result of certain chemotherapy agents. It can start as a feeling of tingling or numbness in the palms and/or soles and progress to swelling, redness, peeling skin, and tenderness or pain. Notify your healthcare team right away if you notice any of these signs of HFS so they can make recommendations or dose changes to prevent it from getting worse. Learn more about HFS on OncoLink.

Nausea and/or Vomiting

Take anti-nausea medications as prescribed. If you continue to have nausea or vomiting, notify your doctor or nurse so they can help you manage this side effect. In addition, dietary changes may help. Avoid things that may worsen the symptoms, such as heavy or greasy/fatty, spicy or acidic foods (lemons, tomatoes, oranges). Try antacids, (e.g. milk of magnesia, calcium tablets such as Tums), saltines, or ginger ale to lessen symptoms. Read the Nausea & Vomiting Tip Sheet for more suggestions.

Call your doctor or nurse if you are unable to keep fluids down for more than 12 hours or if you feel lightheaded or dizzy at any time.

Low White Blood Cell Count (Leukopenia or Neutropenia)

White blood cells (WBC) are important for fighting infection. While receiving treatment, your WBC count can drop, putting you at a higher risk of getting an infection. You should let your doctor or nurse know right away if you have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4¡), sore throat or cold, shortness of breath, cough, burning with urination, or a sore that doesn't heal.

Tips to preventing infection:

  • Washing hands, both yours and your visitors, is the best way to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Avoid large crowds and people who are sick (i.e.: those who have a cold, fever or cough or live with someone with these symptoms).
  • When working in your yard, wear protective clothing including long pants and gloves.
  • Do not handle pet waste.
  • Keep all cuts or scratches clean.
  • Shower or bath daily and perform frequent mouth care.
  • Do not cut cuticles or ingrown nails. You may wear nail polish, but not fake nails.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse before scheduling dental appointments or procedures.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse before you, or someone you live with, has any vaccinations.

For more suggestions, read the Neutropenia Tip Sheet.

Reproductive Concerns

Exposure of an unborn child to this medication could cause birth defects, so you should not become pregnant or father a child while on this medication. Even if your menstrual cycle stops or you believe your sperm is affected, effective birth control is necessary during treatment and up to 4 months after stopping treatment.

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) is a rare side effect, however, it is important that you know about it and take steps to protect your dental health. The maxilla (upper jaw bone) and mandible (lower jaw bone) are normally covered by gum tissue. In the case of ONJ, this tissue is gone and the bone is exposed. Typical symptoms associated with ONJ are: pain, swelling or infection of the gums, loosening of the teeth, exposed bone (often at the site of a previous tooth extraction). Some patients may report numbness or tingling in the jaw or a "heavy" feeling jaw. ONJ may have no symptoms for weeks or months and may only be recognized by the presence of exposed bone. ONJ most often occurs soon after a dental procedure, but this is not required for ONJ to occur. Stop treatment with cabozanitib at least 3 weeks prior to any dental procedures.

  • Prior to starting therapy, you should have a complete dental exam, cleaning, and removal of any teeth in poor health.
  • Dentures should be checked for proper fit.
  • Brush your teeth after meals and at bedtime with a soft brush. Floss gently once a day. If your gums bleed, talk with your healthcare team to see if you can continue to floss.
  • Check your teeth and gums in a mirror daily for any sores, swelling, loose teeth, pain or numbness, or other changes and report these to your dentist or oncology team immediately.

Other Rare, But Emergent Side Effects

Cabozantinib can affect wound healing. Therefore, the manufacturer recommends stopping the drug at least 3 weeks before any surgical procedure and considering not restarting until there is adequate wound healing.

A neurologic complication, called reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome, has been reported. If you experience headache, seizure, confusion, blindness or other visual changes, inform your healthcare provider right away.

Cabozanitib can increase the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. If you experience symptoms of these problems, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately or go to an emergency room. Symptoms can include: swelling, redness or pain in an extremity, chest pain or pressure, pain in your arm, back, neck or jaw, shortness of breath, numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble talking, confusion or mental status changes.

Some patients experienced bleeding or a tear in the intestinal wall. Signs of these problems include: unexpected bleeding, blood in the stool or black stools, cough up or vomit blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds, fever, severe pain in the abdomen or new abdominal swelling. If you experience any of these, contact your healthcare provider immediately or go to the emergency room.

Other Side Effects

Other side effects include excess protein in the urine, for which your healthcare team will monitor you. Patients developed graying of their hair, loss of or change in hair color. Some patients experienced rash or dry skin.



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