What Is Cabazitaxel (Jevtana®)?
Cabazitaxel (Jevtana®) is a chemotherapy drug that can be used to treat people with metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer. These are people who have prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and who no longer respond to treatment meant to lower the body’s testosterone levels. Cabazitaxel is intended to treat people who have been treated with docetaxel in the past.1
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved cabazitaxel to treat prostate cancer in 2010. It is typically used in combination with prednisone, a corticosteroid drug. Serious side effects are possible. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of cabazitaxel.1
What are the ingredients in cabazitaxel?
The active ingredient of cabazitaxel is cabazitaxel.1
How does cabazitaxel work?
Cabazitaxel is an antineoplastic drug. This means it is used to treat cancer. Antineoplastic drugs also may be called anticancer drugs, chemotherapies, or cytotoxic drugs.1
Cabazitaxel treats cancer by making microtubules in cancer cells more stable. Microtubules are parts of cells that play a key role in cell division. When microtubules are extra stable, they do not allow the cancer cells to divide. This slows or stops cell growth, essentially killing the cancer cells.1
Cabazitaxel targets cells with uncontrolled, rapid growth, like cancer cells. So, the goal of treatment with the drug is to affect cancer cells rather than healthy cells. However, cabazitaxel may target some healthy cells that divide quickly. These include cells in the hair follicles, intestines, and blood. This explains some of the common side effects of cabazitaxel.1
What are the possible side effects?
The most common side effects of cabazitaxel include:1
- Stomach pain
- Blood in the urine
- Back pain
- Low appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Hair loss
- Numbness or tingling sensation in hands and feet
- Low platelet count (can increase the risk of bleeding and bruising)
- Low red blood cell count (anemia)
- Low white blood cell count (can increase the risk of infection)
Cabazitaxel has a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the FDA. It has this warning because of the risk that it will lead to a low white blood cell count (neutropenia) in those taking the drug. Neutropenia can lead to serious and life-threatening infections.1,2
Cabazitaxel also has a boxed warning because of the risk of severe allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can happen within a few minutes after infusion with cabazitaxel starts. These reactions are most common during the first and second infusions. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of an allergic reaction, including:1,3
- Rash or itching
- Skin redness
- Breathing problems
- Chest or throat tightness
- Face swelling
These are not all the possible side effects of cabazitaxel. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking cabazitaxel. Call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking cabazitaxel.
Other things to know
Follow your cabazitaxel dosing schedule as your doctor prescribes. It is given as an infusion into your vein (intravenous injection). The dose and schedule depend on individual factors.1
For prostate cancer, cabazitaxel is usually taken in combination with the drug prednisone. Prednisone is a steroid that helps reduce inflammation and immune system activity. This can help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.1
Your doctor may give you other medicines 30 minutes before each dose of cabazitaxel (called premedications). These medicines typically include an antihistamine, a steroid, and other medicines to reduce your risk of allergic reaction to cabazitaxel.1
Cabazitaxel can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. When severe, these side effects can reduce your body’s electrolytes and fluids to a life-threatening degree. Talk to your doctor if you have vomiting or diarrhea with cabazitaxel. They can suggest treatments to prevent or treat these problems.1
Kidney failure has occurred in some people taking cabazitaxel. This can be life-threatening. Your doctor will monitor your kidney function while you are taking cabazitaxel. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of kidney failure, including:1
- Swelling of your face or body
- Reduced urine output
Your doctor will perform blood tests before and during treatment with cabazitaxel to monitor your white blood cell counts. They may adjust your medicines if the count is too low. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of infection, including:2
- Burning while urinating
- Muscle aches
Cabazitaxel may harm an unborn baby. While receiving cabazitaxel, people with sexual partners who can become pregnant should use contraceptives during treatment and for a period of time after completing treatment. Patients should discuss appropriate birth control methods, and how long they need to use them, with their doctor.1
Before beginning treatment with cabazitaxel, talk to your doctor about your full health history. Certain other health conditions and medicines may make cabazitaxel less safe to take. Tell your doctor about:
- Other medical conditions you have, especially kidney, liver, or lung problems
- Any allergies you have or past allergic reactions
- Any current or past infections
- Past cancer treatments you have received
- All other medicines you take, including vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter drugs
For more information, read the full prescribing information.