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Ceritinib 978

This leaflet provides information regarding treatment called ceritinib.  The leaflet will explain what this is and 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 ceritinib?

Ceritinib 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 with an overproduced protein called ALK.  

Why am I having ceritinib?

Ceritinib has been found to help some patients with your type of cancer, by blocking the ALK protein, which can stop the cancer cells from growing. 

 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 ceritinib capsules?

Ceritinib capsules are usually taken once 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.  You should avoid taking grapefruit and grapefruit juice at any time as this interferes with the way that ceritinib works.

How many ceritinib capsules will I need to take?

The amount you need to take will be clearly marked on the box.  Remember to check how many capsules you need to take.  

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 not 12 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 chemotherapy pager. 

What if I vomit?

If you vomit after taking your ceritinib, 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.

Nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite

Loss of appetite may occur with Ceritinib. However,

nausea and vomiting are common with ceritinib.  We will give you anti sickness tablets to take if you need them.  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. 

Effects on your bowels

This treatment has been known to cause either constipation or diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is more common, however. 

  • If you experience constipation it is important that you increase the amount of fluids you drink.  You may need laxatives.  You can speak to us or your GP for advice. 
  • If you experience diarrhoea it is important that you drink plenty of fluids.  Medication is available to control diarrhoea.  If you have 4 or more bowel movements in 24 hours above what is normal for you please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately.  The telephone is at the end of the leaflet.

Skin problems

Some patients may develop a rash.  Usually this can be easily treated with some non perfumed cream or lotion.  Very rarely this rash can be severe. If it is widespread or itchy, contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet. 

Tiredness and fatigue

Ceritinib can make you 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.  If you feel drowsy with this treatment, you should not drive or operate machinery.

Ceritinib can sometimes cause anaemia, if you experience extreme fatigue, or shortness of breath, please inform your specialist team. 

Can I drive whilst taking Ceritinib?

Some people can feel very tired, slightly dizzy or have some blurred vision when they first start taking ceritinib.  You should not drive if you experience any of these side effects.  If these persist or cause any problems please talk to your doctor or nurse. 

Heart problems

Very rarely some people taking ceritinib experience heart problems. You will have a heart tracing, called an ECG before starting the medication. It is important you inform the doctor if you have a heart condition or you take any heart medication

If you do have any chest pain or feel your heart is beating faster than normal you should seek urgent medical attention.  

Increased blood sugars and Diabetes: 

Patients receiving ceritinib may have increased blood sugars. This will be monitored in clinic. If you experience increased thirst or passing urine more frequently please inform your Oncology (Cancer) doctor. 

If you are known to have Diabetes, you will need to monitor your Diabetes more frequently whilst taking ceritinib. If your blood sugars become lower/higher than normal, speak to your Oncology (Cancer) doctor and inform your GP to review your diabetes. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It is important to use contraception during treatment and for 3 months after treatment.  It is unclear if this medication should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  This will need to be discussed with your specialist team.

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

Very rarely some people having may experience breathing problems caused by the ceritinib 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.  

Some patients experience indigestion, reflux, swallowing problems and/or upper abdominal pain or wind. If this causes you problems, ring Velindre Cancer Centre, and inform when next in clinic. 

If you experience visual problems or blurred vision, inform you Oncology (Cancer) doctor. 

Is it alright to take other medicines?

If you are taking other medicines please let your doctor, nurse or pharmacist know, for example: betablockers or other heart medication, as there are a small number of medicines that you may have to avoid. You should also avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice as this interferes with the way that ceritinib works. Avoid taking over the counter medication.

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.

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.

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

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

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 December 2016 Reviewed 2018