This leaflet provides information regarding treatment called Alectinib. The leaflet will explain what this is, when and how it will be given. It will also tell you about common side effects that you may experience. Contact telephone numbers are given at the end of the leaflet.
What is Alectinib and why am I having it ?
Alectinib is a new cancer treatment which is given as capsules. It is not chemotherapy, but a targeted therapy, which is given for patients with lung cancer. It helps in causing cancer cells to die.
How often will I see the specialist team?
You will see the specialist team regularly. You will have regular blood tests and the team will check how you are feeling and discuss any problems you may have. This is so we can check how the treatment is affecting you.
Can I bring relatives and friends with me?
Currently due to the need to ensure 2m space between patients during COVID-19 we do not usually allow anyone to stay with you during your treatment. If you have any concerns about this please speak to your team before your treatment starts. We may be able to make some exceptions but we will need to be aware of this before the day of treatment.
How should I take the Alectinib capsules?
Alectinib capsules are usually taken twice a day. Try to take them at approximately the same time every day. The capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. They must not be chewed or crushed. The capsules need to be taken with food. The capsules contain lactose, so if you are lactose intolerant inform your cancer doctor.
How many Alectinib capsules will I need to take?
The amount you need to take will be clearly labelled on the box. Remember to check how many capsules you need to take. This is important especially if your dose is altered.
What should I do if I forget to take my capsules?
If you miss a dose, you can take the missed dose as long as it is within 6 hours before the next dose.
What if I take too many capsules?
Please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately for advice. The telephone is at the end of the leaflet. Please ask for the treatment helpline.
What if I vomit?
If you vomit after taking your Alectinib, do not try to take another dose, wait until your next dose is due.
How should I store the capsules?
Your capsules should be stored in their original packaging and in a safe place away from children. They should be kept in a cool dry place (below 25oC).
Any unused capsules should be returned to the hospital Pharmacy or your local chemist for safe disposal.
What are the possible side effects?
This treatment is usually well tolerated but there are some possible side effects that you need to be aware of. The doctors, nurses and pharmacists can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.
Effects on your bowels
This treatment has been known to cause either constipation or diarrhoea. Constipation is more common, however.
You may experience some swelling of your face, eye, arms or legs whilst on this medication. Please inform your doctors in clinic if this occurs. It is rare to cause a sensitivity reaction, but if you have any swelling affecting your breathing you should ring 999.
You can experience pain in your muscles and pain whilst on this medication. Inform your doctors when in clinic, if this occurs.
Nausea and vomiting,
You may experience nausea ( feeling sick) or /and vomiting with Alectinib. We will give you anti sickness tablets to take if you need them, which usually controls the nausea. However, if you are sick more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular anti-sickness medicine, contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
You may develop a rash. Usually this can be treated easily with some non perfumed cream or lotion. However, if this rash is severe, for example: it is widespread and itchy, contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Sensitivity to the sun:
You will be more sensitive to the sun, so avoid prolonged sun exposure. Keep in the shade and avoid the midday sun. Use a suncream with a broad spectrum UVA and UVB and lipbalm. Continue using this for 7 days after stopping the medication.
Alectinib can sometimes cause anaemia, if you experience extreme fatigue, or shortness of breath, please inform your specialist team.
A diagnosis of cancer can increase your risk of developing a blood clot (thrombosis), and having cancer treatment may increase this risk further. It is important to tell your doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in your leg, or breathlessness and chest pain.
Blood clots can be very serious. However, most clots can usually be successfully treated with drugs to thin the blood. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.
Other side effects:
Rarely Alectinib can cause a slow heart rate, this may lead to feeling dizzy, visual problems or sometimes fainting. If this occurs, stop your medication, ring the treatment helpline. It is important if you feel any of these, that you do not drive or operate machinery.
Very rarely some people may experience breathing problems caused by the Alectinib capsules. If you notice shortness of breath, cough or any breathing problems, please contact your doctor or specialist nurse. You will be monitored at regular clinic visits.
Alectinib can cause an alteration in liver function – your bloods will be monitored for this in clinic for this.
You may notice an increase in your weight.
You may experience an alteration in taste whilst taking this medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It is important not to get pregnant or father a child whilst taking this treatment and for 3 months after. Therefore, if of childbearing age, you must use contraception for this time period. In addition, you should not breastfeed during the treatment.
Is it alright to take other medicines?
If you are taking other medicines please let your doctor, nurse or pharmacist know, Avoid taking over the counter medication. Alectinib can interact with certain medication such as St John’s Wort, certain medication for epilepsy and anti-fungals, as well as others.
Sometimes cancer drugs can have very serious side effects which rarely can be life threatening. It is important to inform Velindre cancer centre if you are concerned about any side-effects.
Manufacturer’s patient information leaflets
Velindre leaflets provide information about very common and commonly reported side-effects (we are unable to list all of the common side effects), for more information regarding these and the less common side-effects please refer to the manufacturers patient information leaflets, obtained from Velindre pharmacy and/or on the internet at www.medicines.org.uk. Sometimes patients may find these leaflets difficult to read however. Please ask if you would like a copy from your doctor or from Velindre pharmacy
Contact telephone numbers
Velindre Cancer Centre 029 2061 5888
For urgent advice at any time of the day or night please ask for the treatment helpline
Pharmacy department 029 2061 5888 ext 6223
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm for queries about your medicines
Tenovus freephone 0808 808 1010
This leaflet was written by health professionals. The information contained in this leaflet is evidence based. It has been approved by doctors, nurses and patients. It is reviewed and updated every 2 years.
Prepared December 2018