|Type of medicine||Retinoid anti-cancer medicine|
|Used for||Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL)|
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a disease where white blood cells, known as T-cells, become cancerous and grow in the skin in an uncontrolled way.
Bexarotene works by slowing the growth of the cancerous cells. It is prescribed after other treatments have been tried but not found to be effective.
Before taking bexarotene
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking bexarotene it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have problems with the way your liver works.
- If you have a lipid disorder (such as high cholesterol or triglycerides).
- If you have an underactive thyroid.
- If you have an infection.
- If you have ever had pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
- If you have been told by a doctor that the level of vitamin A in your body is too high.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take bexarotene
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about bexarotene and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Bexarotene will be prescribed for you by a specialist doctor who is experienced in treating your condition. Your dose will be calculated from your weight and height, so your doctor will tell you how many capsules to take each day. The dose is generally between 4 and 10 capsules taken once daily. It is important that you take the capsules exactly as your doctor has told you. The dose you have been prescribed will be on the label of your pack to remind you.
- Try to take bexarotene at the same time each day, as this will help you to remember to take it. Swallow the capsules with a drink of water at a mealtime. You can take the capsules immediately before, during or straight after your meal. Do not chew or open the capsules.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it with your next meal on the same day. Do not take two doses on the following day to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- You must try to keep your regular appointments with the doctor or hospital. This is so your progress can be checked. You will need to have regular blood tests during your treatment with this medicine.
- Continue to take the capsules unless you are advised otherwise. You may require treatment with bexarotene for several months.
- You must avoid getting pregnant or fathering a child while you are on bexarotene. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner. Many anti-cancer treatments are associated with reduced fertility (particularly in men), so you may also want to ask your doctor for family planning advice.
- Do not have any immunisations (vaccinations) while you are taking this medicine, or for several months afterwards, without talking to your doctor first. Bexarotene lowers your body's resistance and there is a chance that you may get an infection from the vaccine.
- If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking these capsules.
- If you have difficulty with your eyesight while you are taking bexarotene, let your doctor know so an eye examination can be arranged.
- It is possible that drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice may increase the levels of bexarotene in your body. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of bexarotene in your bloodstream. This may make side-effects more likely.
- Retinoids like bexarotene may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sun cream that protects against UVA light and has a high sun protection factor (SPF), especially in strong sunlight or until you know how your skin reacts. Do not use sunbeds.
- If you buy any medicines (particularly vitamin supplements), check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with bexarotene. This is because bexarotene is related to vitamin A and you should limit the amount of vitamin supplements you take.
- If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently, as these capsules may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
Can bexarotene cause problems?
This medicine can lower the number of white cells in your blood, increasing the chance of you getting an infection. You should take certain precautions to reduce the risk of this - if possible, avoid people with infections and let your doctor know if you think you are getting a sore throat or if you have a high temperature.
Your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of unwanted side-effects of treatment with bexarotene. Let your doctor know if you experience any of the following:
|Common bexarotene side-effects
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy||If this happens, get up or move more slowly|
|Feeling or being sick, diarrhoea or constipation,
|Stick to simple foods. Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids|
|Headache, aches and pains||Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
Increased weight, difficulties sleeping, a reduced
|If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Thyroid disorders and lipid disorders||Your doctor will arrange for you to have regular blood tests to check for these|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store bexarotene
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Targretin® Capsules; Eisai Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2012.
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Prof Cathy Jackson|
|Last Checked: 16/10/2012||Document ID: 3822 Version: 24||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.