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Capecitabine and mitomycin chemotherapy and radiotherapy 631

Information leaflet on capecitabine and mitomycin chemotherapy and radiotherapy 631

This leaflet provides information on a chemotherapy called capecitabine and mitomycin.  The leaflet will explain what this is and when and how it is given.  It will also tell you about common side effects that you may experience. Contact telephone numbers and details of how to obtain further information on this chemotherapy are given at the end of the leaflet.

This leaflet should be read alongside the ‘General information for patients receiving chemotherapy’.  If you haven’t received this leaflet please ask your nurse for a copy. 
This treatment will be given at the same time as radiotherapy.  You will be given a radiotherapy information leaflet.

What is capecitabine and mitomycin chemotherapy?

This is a chemotherapy treatment which consists of two drugs: 

  • Capecitabine, which is given as tablets
  • Mitomycin, which is given as an injection

Why am I having capecitabine and mitomycin? 

Your doctor has prescribed this chemotherapy because it has been found to be effective in treating your type of cancer.

How often will I receive my chemotherapy?

You will need to take the capecitabine tablets twice a day on the days you are having radiotherapy. This is usually Monday to Friday. Your clinical team will let you know how many days of treatment you will be having.

The Mitomycin injection is given once at the beginning of your treatment.

How will my mitomycin chemotherapy be given?

Mitomycin is given by injection into a vein. In order to do this you will have a small needle placed in your hand or arm and you will be connected to a drip.  We will give you anti sickness medicine before your chemotherapy. 

How long will I be in the hospital?

Your chemotherapy appointment will be on a different day to your clinic appointment.  The anti sickness medicine and mitomycin injection will take about 30 minutes to give.  Please allow an extra 30 minutes for your first treatment.

Can I bring relatives and friends with me? 

You are welcome to bring someone to stay with you during your treatment. Space is limited so there is not usually room for more than one person.  Treatment areas are not suitable for young children.

How should I take the capecitabine tablets?

Capecitabine tablets should be taken twice a day (9-12 hours apart), You should take the tablets within 30 minutes of finishing your meal.  The tablets should be swallowed whole with a glass of water.  They must not be chewed or crushed 

It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly after taking your tablets.

How many tablets will I need to take?

This will vary for each person.  There are 2 different strength tablets which are different sizes.  The bigger tablets are 500mg and the smaller tablets are 150mg.  You will probably have to take a combination of big and small tablets.  The amount you need to take will be clearly marked on the boxes. Remember to check each box to see how many tablets you need to take.

What should I do if I forget to take my tablets?

  • If it’s within 2 hours of the normal time take them now.
  • If it’s more than 2 hours late, miss this dose.

Do not take the extra tablets when your treatment should have finished.  It is important that even if you have missed any doses you should finish the treatment at the planned time.  

What if I take too many tablets?

Please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately for advice.  The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.

How should I store the capecitabine tablets?

You should store your tablets in their original packaging in a safe place away from children.  They should be kept in a cool dry place.  Unused tablets should be returned to the hospital Pharmacy or your local chemist for safe disposal.  

What are the possible side effects?

This chemotherapy is usually very well tolerated and most patients don’t have many side effects.  The doctors, nurses and pharmacy team can give you advice or answer any questions you have. Please refer to your radiotherapy leaflet for any radiotherapy side effects.

Hair loss

You should not lose your hair.  However, a small number of people may experience some hair thinning.

Nausea and vomiting are uncommon these days as we will give you anti-sickness medicines which are usually extremely effective.  If you are sick more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular anti-sickness medicine, stop taking your capecitabine tablets and contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. 


You are at an increased risk of picking up infections because your white blood cells which help fight infections can be reduced by this treatment.  

If you develop an infection whilst your white blood cells are low, you are at risk of sepsis, this can be life threatening. 

Contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example flu like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5°centigrade or if your temperature is below 35.5°.  The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.


You may have diarrhoea.  If this occurs it is important that you drink plenty of fluids.  We will give you medication to take if you get diarrhoea.  

You should stop taking your capecitabine tablets and contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately if:

  • you have 4 or more bowel movements in 24 hours above what is normal for you.
  • you are woken up at night with diarrhoea.   

You should also contact us if you have any problems with diarrhoea or an increase in bowel movements which lasts for more than 3 days.

Tiredness and fatigue

You may feel more tired than usual.  It is important to listen to your body and rest if you need to, but carry out your normal activities if you feel able.  Some people find it beneficial to take gentle exercise as well as rest.

Sore mouth

Your mouth may become sore or you may notice small ulcers.  Please follow the advice on caring for your mouth in the general chemotherapy leaflet.

Your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or clear any infection. If your mouth becomes very painful, or you are finding it difficult to eat and drink, you should stop taking your capecitabine tablets and contact Velindre Cancer Centre. 

Soreness to your hands and feet

You may experience mild pain, redness and swelling of your hands or feet.
If this occurs we recommend using a non perfumed cream or lotion regularly.  Please contact Velindre Cancer Centre if your hands or feet become painful. 

Skin problems

Some patients will develop dry skin or a rash.  Usually this can be easily treated with some non perfumed cream or lotion.  Very rarely this rash can be severe.  If you have a rash with blisters or is painful you should stop taking your capecitabine tablets and telephone Velindre Cancer Centre immediately for advice.  The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.

Heart problems

Very rarely some people having capecitabine chemotherapy experience heart problems.  If you have a heart condition or you take any heart medication, please tell your doctor before you start chemotherapy.  

If you do have any chest pain you should stop taking your capecitabine tablets and seek urgent medical attention.  Do not start taking your capecitabine again until you have spoken to the team at Velindre.

Blood clots

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 and information

Some patients experience sore or watery eyes.  If this occurs please tell your doctor or nurse at your next clinic visit.

Mitomycin will harmlessly discolour your urine blue for a day after your chemotherapy.  If this lasts for more than 24 hours please contact Velindre Cancer Centre.

Women may find that chemotherapy treatment affects their periods.  They could become heavier, lighter or even stop.  

It is important you do not become pregnant or father a child whilst having chemotherapy treatment as chemotherapy could damage the unborn baby.

This chemotherapy can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.  It is best to avoid strong sunlight and wear a hat and use a sun block when in the sun.

Rare side effects

A small number of people develop lung problems following mitomycin.  If you develop a cough or notice that you are short of breath then please contact Velindre Cancer Centre.

Very occasionally mitomycin can damage your blood cells and kidneys.  To minimise the risk of this happening we carefully calculate the dose of mitomycin.  You will also have regular blood tests.

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 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
Ask for the treatment helpline if you are unwell at home and need immediate advice at any time of the day or night. For example you should phone if you:

  • Are sick more than once in 24 hours
  • Have a temperature of 37.5°C or above or below 35.5°centigrade 
  • Have 4 or more bowel movements in 24 hours above what is normal for you
  • Have an increase in bowel movements above what is normal for you which lasts for more than three days
  • Have a very sore mouth 
  • Have very sore hands or feet
  • Develop a cough or shortness of breath
  • Have had to stop capecitabine because of chest pain

Pharmacy department 029 2061 5888 ext 6223
Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm for queries about your medicines

Macmillan freephone Helpline 0808 808 0000

Tenovus freephone 0808 808 1010
cancer helpline 

This information is also available in Welsh

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 March 2020