Axitinib – Uses, Side Effects and Precautions



Axitinib is an anti-cancer drug that helps to stop the growth of cancer cells. It comes under the category of kinase inhibitor drug, which stops the cancer cells from growing by blocking a protein that is present on the surface of cancer cells.

These proteins help the cancer cells to grow rapidly hence by blocking these proteins, axitinib stops the cancer cells from spreading in the surrounding regions of the tumor and into the other parts of the body.  

Axitinib is used to treat advanced kidney cancer which is known as renal cell carcinoma or RCC. It is used in combination with avelumab or pembrolizumab to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma. They block the abnormal protein and stop the cancerous cells from dividing further. 


How is axitinib given? 

Axitinib comes in the form of tablets that can be taken orally. It can be taken with or without food twice a day. But the dose will be prescribed by the doctor according to the stage of cancer and severity of it. Only discontinue or change the dose once it is advised by the doctor.  

It is taken with a glass full of water. Avoid crushing, spitting, or chewing the tablet. Try to take the axitinib drug at the same time every day.  


What are the common side effects of axitinib? 

Axitinib and other drugs are connected with some kind of side effects. Axitinib side effects are quite commonly observed in many patients who take axitinib as a drug for the treatment of cancer. Some of the common side effects of axitinib are listed below: 

  • High blood pressure  
  • Joint pain 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Cough 
  • Low level of thyroid hormones 
  • Skin problems such as dry skin or rashes or blisters  
  • Indigestion leading to constipation and diarrhea 
  • Bleeding 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea 
  • Pain in different regions of the body 
  • Stomatitis (Inflammation of the mouth) 
  • Change in taste 
  • Vomiting 

Apart from that, there are many other side effects of axitinib also. If you experience any side effects which get worse, then consult with your doctor. These common side effects can be treated with medication that can be prescribed by the doctor on demand by the patient.  

If you feel like the symptoms are worsening, immediately rush to the hospital. 


What are the precautions that you need to take? 

While taking axitinib, it is advised to take some precautions. These precautions help to avoid any major complications. Some of the common precautions that one must take while taking axitinib are: 

  1. It is always advised to tell your doctor if you are taking medication for any other diseases that you might be suffering from. As it can help them decide which medication can react with axitinib or can cause any complications.  
  2. Avoid taking any other over-the-counter drug, vitamin, or herbal supplements while taking axitinib for cancer treatment. Always ask your doctor before taking any other medication which can affect the action of chemotherapy drugs. There is a risk that these supplements or medications may interact with axitinib and inhibit its action. Therefore, avoid taking such medication or ask your physician before taking any if needed. 
  3. Avoid getting pregnant or breastfeeding a child while taking axitinib. It can affect the pregnancy or the child negatively.  
  4. Tell your doctor before the prescription if you are allergic to any substance, medicine, or any of the ingredients in the axitinib tablet. 
  5. Tell your doctor if you suffer from a bleeding disorder, heart disease, hypertension, blood clots, liver or kidney diseases, bleeding in the stomach or intestine, pulmonary embolism, etc. 
  6. Before getting into any kind of surgery, you will be asked to stop taking axitinib two days before the surgery. Therefore, tell your surgeon that you are taking axitinib and discuss any complications or queries before surgery. 
  7. Avoid taking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking axitinib. 


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