This leaflet provides information on a course of treatment called niraparib. 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 niraparib?
Niraparib is a cancer treatment which is given as capsules. It is a targeted therapy, not chemotherapy. It helps in detecting and repairing cell damage to control the cancer.
Why am I having niraparib?
Niraparib has been found to help some patients with your type of cancer.
How often will I see the specialist team?
You will see the specialist team regularly. You will have regular blood tests and we 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. Also your blood pressure will be monitored in clinic. If you have high blood pressure, it is important to inform your team.
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 niraparib capsules?
Niraparib capsules should be taken at the same time each day, it is recommended to take in the evening. The capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. They must not be chewed or crushed. They can be taken with or without food.
How many niraparib capsules will I need to take?
The amount you need to take will be clearly marked on the box.
What should I do if I forget to take my capsules?
Leave the dose you have missed and take the next dose as usual.
If you vomit a dose, do not take another capsule, wait until the next dose is due.
What if I take too many capsules?
Please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet. Please ask for the treatment helpline/chemotherapy pager.
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/or pharmacists can give you advice or answer any questions you may have.
You may experience nausea and vomiting with niraparib. 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.
Sore, dry mouth and taste changes
Your mouth may become dry and you may notice taste changes. You may also develop a sore mouth. Your doctor may prescribe mouthwashes or medication to help with this.
Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
You may experience a loss of appetite and some people may feel sick whilst taking niraparib but this can usually be well controlled with anti sickness medication. If you are sick more than once in 24 hours despite taking regular anti-sickness medicine, you should stop taking your niraparib
capsules and contact Velindre Cancer Centre for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Tiredness and fatigue
Niraparib 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 taking rest.
High blood pressure
Niraparib can cause an increase in blood pressure in some people. Your blood pressure will be checked regularly during your treatment. If you have headaches, nosebleeds or feel dizzy let your doctor know.
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. Contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately if you develop any signs of infection, for example flu like symptoms or a temperature above 37.5°centigrade. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Low blood counts
Niraparib can affect your blood count. Your bloods will be monitored in clinic. Occasionally, this may require a blood transfusion or increase your risk of bleeding. If you notice unusual bruising or bleeding, shortness of breath or severe fatigue please contact Velindre Cancer Centre immediately for advice. The telephone number is at the end of the leaflet.
Niraparib can cause constipation. It is important to eat plenty fruit and vegetables, drink 2-3 litres of fluids/day and eat a high fibre diet. If you develop constipation, see your GP for medication to help.
You may have problems sleeping. Try relaxation techniques to help you to sleep, but if this doesn’t help, see your GP for advice about night sedation.
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 people may experience problems with headaches and dizziness. Try taking the painkillers you would normally take for a headache. If you find that painkillers do not help or you have any problems with your vision please tell your doctor or nurse.
Rarely a very small number of patients are at risk of leukaemia and bone marrow disorders. Your doctors will be monitoring your bloods for this.
Rarely people on this treatment may experience shortness of breath. This is more likely if you have an existing lung problem. If you develop shortness of breath, ring the treatment helpline if this is sudden onset, otherwise inform your consultant.
Very rarely some people having niraparib may experience heart problems such as chest pain or palpitations. If you have a heart condition or you are taking any heart medication, please tell your doctor before you start your treatment.
Some patients experience indigestion and/or upper abdominal pain, if this causes you problems, ring Velindre Cancer Centre, and inform when next in clinic.
Niraparib can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. It is best to avoid strong sunlight, wear a hat and use a sun block.
It is important you do not become pregnant or father a child whilst having treatment or for at least 1 month afterwards, this is because niraparib could damage the unborn baby. It is important to use contraception if at a child bearing age. It is unknown how niraparib affects fertility. Please discuss with your team. Breast feeding in not recommended.
Is it alright to take other medicines?
If you are taking other medicines please let your doctor, nurse or pharmacist know.
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.
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
Macmillan freephone Helpline 0808 808 0000
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
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.