Abiraterone (Oral)

Abiraterone is used to treat prostate cancer.

Overview

Abiraterone is a steroidal inhibitor and androgen synthesis inhibitor used in the treatment of certain types of prostate cancer. Some prostate cancer does not respond to typical androgen deprivation treatment or androgen receptor antagonists, so Abiraterone is used in these cases.

Conditions treated

Type of Medicine

  • Steroidal inhibitor
  • Androgen synthesis inhibitor

Side effects

Like any medication, Abiraterone can have unwanted physical effects on a patient, in addition to the desired medical effects. Some of these side effects may be grounds for you to discontinue using Abiraterone, or to add other aspects to your health care plan to deal with these effects. While not all side effects are dangerous or life-threatening, all side effects should be reported to your physician or medical care provider.

Mild side effects

Some side effects of Abiraterone are unpleasant, but not necessarily life-threatening or a sign of a larger medical problem. These side effects are usually due to your body adjusting to the medication, and may subside over the course of treatment as you get used to the new substance. All side effects of Abiraterone should be reported to your doctor, especially if they become bothersome. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a course of treatment that will help you negate the symptoms of these side effects.

While taking Abiraterone, you may experience mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as an upset or acid stomach, heartburn, or indigestion, sometimes accomanied by excessive belching. You may experience effects on your muscular system, such as joint pain, swelling or stiffness in the joints, muscle cramps or spasms, aches or pain in the muscle or bone, muscle stiffness, or difficulty in moving. You may also experience cold-like symptoms, such as nasal congestion or a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, mild chills, ear congestion, sore throat, or laryngitis.

Serious side effects

Abiraterone may cause more serious side effects in some patients, which can be signs of dangerous health problems, or cause major health problems in and of themselves. If you experience these symptoms while taking Abiraterone, contact your physician or seek medical care immediately. These symptoms may be signs of serious health problems, such as kidney or liver malfunction, hypertension or hypotension, or an allergic reaction.

You may experience problems associated with urinary disorders, such as lower side or back pain, bladder pain, increased thirst or dry mouth, an increased or unusually frequent urge to urinate, less urine production than usual, pain or burning while urinating or associated with urinating, difficulty urinating, or urine that is bloody, cloudy, or dark.

You may also experience stomach or abdominal pain or tenderness around that area, decreased appetite or loss of appetite, nausea or nausea to the point of vomiting, rapid weight gain or sudden loss of weight, diarrhea, or clay-colored stools. You may experience severe muscle pain or cramps, headaches, pain or swelling in the legs without any injury, pain in the jaw, back or arms, swelling or bloating of the extremities, such as arms, hands and fingers, legs, feet and face, or swelling with depressions or pits in the skin.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience respiratory problems, such as chest pain or chest discomfort, heaviness or tightness in the chest, wheezing, difficulty breathing or irregular breathing, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, numbness or tingling in the extremities, such as hands, feet or lips, shortness of breath or an unusually slow, fast or irregular heartbeat or pulse.

Additionally, contact a doctor if you experience a sudden redness or the face, arms, neck, or upper chest, unusually cool and sweaty skin or sudden sweating, a feeling of unusual warmth or fever, extreme fatigue, physical weakness, or dilated neck veins. You may also experience convulsions, itchy skin or a rash, yellowing eyes or skin, a darkening of the skin, and mood changes, such as nervousness or depression. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your doctor immediately and seek medical assistance.

Symptoms of mineralocorticoid excess

While taking Abiraterone, you may experience symptoms of mineralocorticoid excess. This is a kidney problem associated with hypertension (high blood pressure) and hypokalemia (dangerously low levels of potassium in the body). This is a serious problem that needs to be treated immediately.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience signs of hypertension, such as vertigo or lightheadedness, ringing or buzzing in the ears, or blurred vision. Get medical help immediately if you experience signs of hypokalemia, such as unusual muscle weakness, muscle tremors or muscle cramps, accompanied by constipation.

 

Dosage

Like all medications, your usage of Abiraterone and its dosage and frequency may vary. Your doctor will be able to determine if Abiraterone is right for you, and the appropriate dosage and frequency with which to take this medication. Dosage information is supplied by the manufacturer as a standard dose and standard usage, the effectiveness of which may vary by individual person. Always take your medication according to your doctor's orders, especially as it pertains to amount and frequency.

Abiraterone is available in a tablet form, or as a film-coated tablet. It is available in amounts of 250mg per pill or 500mg per pill.

The recommended amount of Abiraterone is 1,000mg per dose, taken all at a time once per day. Abiraterone is usually taken on an empty stomach. Patients should not consume food for at least two hours before taking the dose and should refrain from eating for at least one hour after taking the dose. Abiraterone is normally prescribed along with a regimen of 5mg of oral prednisone, given two times per day.

If you miss a scheduled dose of your Abiraterone, do not take a double dose or try to make up your dose. Taking too much Abiraterone may cause health problems, such as liver failure, kidney failure, problems with blood pressure, bladder infections and other long-term health issues. Skip the missed dose, and then go on to the next scheduled dose of your Abiraterone as normal. If you miss more than one dose of Abiraterone in a row, contact your doctor.

Major drug interactions

Abiraterone, like any medication or substance, has a chance of interacting in unwanted or unexpected ways with other drugs or substances already in the body. If you begin to take a new drug or over the counter supplement while you are on Abiraterone and you begin to experience a new or more serious side effect of Abiraterone, contact your doctor immediately.

Always keep a list of the medications you are currently taking, whether they are prescribed by a doctor or are an over the counter drug or supplement. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you identify drug combinations that have a chance of interaction.

There are 496 different types of drugs that are known to have unwanted interactions with Abiraterone. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your medications or supplements are one of them. Some common medications or supplements that are known to interact with Abiraterone include substances such as:

  • Ingredients common in cough or cold medications, such as dextromethorphan, guaifenesin, hydrocodone, or pseudoephedrine
  • Allergy medications, such as diphenhydramine, doxylamine, phenylephrine, or albuterol
  • Ingredients found in compound painkillers, such as acetaminophen and codeine
  • Psychiatric drugs, such as aripiprazole, amphetamines, and dextroamphetamine
  • Stomach medication, such as loperamide, esomeprazole, aluminum hydroxide, magnesium carbonate
  • Antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, amoxicillin, levofloxacin
  • Supplements, such as fish oil, vitamin B6, or vitamin D3

This is not a complete list of drugs that have been found to interact with Abiraterone. Abiraterone interacts with other prescription and over the counter drugs. For a complete list of Abiraterone interactions, consult your pharmacist. Abiraterone may react unpredictably with other prescription or over the counter medications.

Warnings

Blood pressure

Before taking Abiraterone, patients will need to be measured for healthy blood pressure. Abiraterone can cause unwanted effects on blood pressure that may become severe. If you notice that your blood pressure is higher or lower than usual while taking Abiraterone, contact your doctor or seek medical help immediately.

Symptoms of hypertension include lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or prone position, dizziness, unusually rapid or fast heartbeat, pounding in the ears, numbness or tingling in the extremities, such as feet, hands or lips, unusual redness or warmth in the skin, especially around the chest, unusual or sudden sweating, clammy or moist skin, chills, blurry vision, fainting or loss of consciousness, fatigue or unusual weakness.

Blood tests

When taking Abiraterone, patients will need to consult with their prescribing physician routinely, in order to ensure that this medication is working as intended. Some unwanted effects of Abiraterone may not manifest in obvious symptoms, so regular blood tests are needed to check for side effects and health while taking Abiraterone. These can include side effects, such as hyperkalemia or hepatic toxicity, even when they do not appear as symptoms listed here.

Hepatic toxicity

Abiraterone has a chance of causing hepatic problems or liver dysfunction. Signs and symptoms of a liver problem include nausea, loss of appetite, pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, yellow eyes or skin (jaundice), dark urine, pale stools, or unusual weakness or tiredness. If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms can lead to serious health issues.

Physical contact warnings

This medicine should not be administered to children. People who are pregnant or who may become pregnant in the future should not experience skin contact with this medicine, and are advised to wear gloves or other skin protection when handling Abiraterone.

Abiraterone is known to cause birth defects when one parent is taking it. Sexually active patients using Abiraterone are advised to use a condom at all times, as well as another reliable method of birth control. This will need to be followed until one week after the last dose of Abiraterone has been administered. If a pregnancy occurs while Abiraterone is being taken, contact your doctor immediately.

Food warnings

Abiraterone is meant to be taken on an empty stomach. Taking Abiraterone with food increases the percentage of medication absorbed by the body, which can lead to conditions like water retention, high blood pressure and dangerously low blood potassium.

If you experience muscle weakness, paralysis, irregular heart rhythm, or difficulties in breathing and swallowing, contact your doctor. If you experience nausea or nausea to the point of vomiting, constipation, abdominal cramping, other muscle cramping, muscle weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, confusion, fainting or loss of consciousness, numbness or tingling, chest pain, a rapid heartbeat, or edema (swelling in the extremities, such as feet or legs), seek medical attention immediately.

Storage

Abiraterone should be stored at room temperature. Abiraterone may be stored in a refrigerator, but does not need to be refrigerated.

If your Abiraterone is past its expiration date, you will need to dispose of it. The effects of medication past its expiration date can be unpredictable, and may be less effective than normal or cause unwanted side effects. Talk to your physician about a disposal or mail-back program for any and all prescription medications.

Summary

Abiraterone is used to treat prostate cancer that does not respond to typical androgen deprivation therapy. It is a steroidal inhibitor and androgen synthesis inhibitor. It comes in 250mg or 500mg tablets, and is normally taken in amounts of 1,000mg at a time once per day on an empty stomach. Abiraterone is usually prescribed along with 5mg of prednisone twice per day.

Abiraterone does come with some side effects. Normal side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, pain and stiffness, or cold-like symptoms. More serious side effects include urinary tract infections, hypertension, edema, rashes and cardiac problems. Watch out for shortness of breath, nausea, muscle tremors, jaundice or weakness. Contact your doctor and seek medical help if you experience any of these serious symptoms.

Abiraterone interacts with almost 500 different drugs, including many common painkillers, allergy and cold medications, stomach medications, psychiatric drugs and some common over the counter supplements. Before taking Abiraterone, make sure your physician and pharmacist have a complete list of the other prescription and over the counter medications you take, to ensure that no unwanted interactions occur.

Before taking Abiraterone, get a blood pressure screening, as Abiraterone can exacerbate blood pressure problems. Abiraterone should not be given to children. Abiraterone can also cause birth defects, so people who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not physically handle Abiraterone.

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Last Reviewed:
December 10, 2017
Last Updated:
October 09, 2018
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