Xeloda (chemical name: capecitabine) is a chemotherapy drug.

Brand name: Xeloda

Chemical name: Capecitabine

Class: Antimetabolite chemotherapy. Fluorouracil, Gemzar, and methotrexate are other antimetabolites.

How it works: Antimetabolites kill cancer cells by acting as false building blocks in a cancer cell's genes, causing the cancer cell to die as it gets ready to divide.

Uses: Xeloda often is used in combination with other anticancer medicines. Typically it's used to treat metastatic breast cancer that has stopped responding to Taxol, Taxotere, and Adriamycin.

How it's given: Xeloda is taken orally as a pill.

Additional information: Xeloda is in an inactive form when you take it. Your liver, and then enzymes in the cancer cells, convert it to its active cancer-fighting form, 5-fluorouracil. (Cancer cells contain high levels of an enzyme that converts Xeloda to its active state.) This two-step activation process means that a higher concentration of the medicine ends up in the cancer tissue, rather than in healthy tissue.

Important information about DPYD mutations: People with a mutation in the DPYD gene have a much higher risk of severe, sometimes life-threatening, side effects from Xeloda. Researchers estimate that out of 1,000 people who take Xeloda, at least 20 might have a DPYD mutation.

It’s recommended that people with a DPYD mutation either take a lower dose of Xeloda or receive a different medicine. In 2020, the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) recommended genetic testing for anyone prescribed Xeloda. In the United States, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) do not recommend testing for DPYD mutations.

Some people with a DPYD mutation may have seizures, intellectual disabilities, and autistic behaviors that affect their ability to communicate. Other people have no signs or symptoms.

If Xeloda is part of your treatment plan, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your family’s medical history and ask if DPYD testing makes sense for you.

Side effects:

— Last updated on August 5, 2022, 8:15 PM

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