Alecensa

Alecensa treats a certain type of advanced lung cancer. Alecensa may cause sunburn when exposed to sunlight.

Alecensa Overview

Reviewed: December 11, 2015
Updated: 

Alecensa is a prescription medication used to treat a certain type of advanced lung cancer. Alecensa belongs to a group of drugs called kinase inhibitors. These work by blocking the activity of the ALK (gene mutation) protein to prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading.

This medication comes in capsule (by mouth) form and is taken twice a day with food.

Common side effects of Alecensa include tiredness, constipation, and swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, and eyelids.

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Alecensa Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautionsprecautions

Uses of Alecensa

Alecensa is a prescription medication used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that:

  • has a certain type of abnormal ALK gene, and
  • has spread to other parts of the body

It is not known if this medication is safe and effective in children. 

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Manufacturer

Alecensa Drug Class

Alecensa is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Alecensa

Serious side effects have been reported with Alecensa. See the "Drug Precautions" section.

Common side effects of Alecensa include the following:

  • tiredness
  • constipation
  • swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, and eyelids

This is not a complete list of Alecensa side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Alecensa Interactions

No drug interactions have been determined by the manufacturer. However, you should tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Not all drug interactions are known or reported and new drug interactions are continually being reported.

Alecensa Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with Alecensa including the following:

Liver problems. Alecensa may cause a decline in liver function. Your doctor will order labs to check your liver function at least every 2 weeks for the first 2 months of treatment, and then as needed. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of these signs of symptoms of liver damage:

  • loss of appetite or start losing weight (anorexia)
  • feel tired
  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • dark urine or light colored stools
  • itchy skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain on the right side of your stomach area
  • bleeding or bruising more easily than normal

Lung Problems. Tell your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • new or worsening cough
  • trouble breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • fever

Slow heartbeat (Bradycardia). Alecensa can cause a slow heartbeat. Your doctor will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure while you are being treated with Alecensa. Alert your doctor immediately if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or faint. Make sure you tell your doctor about any medications you take for your heart or blood pressure.

Muscle pain, tenderness, and weakness. Alecensa may cause muscle problems that are potentially severe. Your doctor will perform labs to monitor CPK (an enzyme that may indicate muscle damage if high) at least every 2 weeks for the first month and then as needed during treatment with Alecensa. Tell your doctor if you experience muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness.

Kidney problems. This medication may cause severe or life-threatening kidney problems. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have a change in the amount or color of your urine, or if you get new or worsening swelling in your legs or feet. 

Harm to your unborn baby. Alecensa can cause harm to an unborn baby if given to a pregnant woman. Females who are able to become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control while taking Alecensa and for one week after completing treatment.

Avoid being in sunlight during treatment with Alecensa and for 7 days after you complete treatment with Alecensa. You may sunburn more easily while taking Alecensa. Make sure to use sunscreen and lip balm with at least SPF 50 to prevent severe sunburns when you are outdoors.

Do not take Alecensa if you are allergic to Alecensa or to any of its ingredients.

Alecensa Food Interactions

Medications can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Alecensa, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.

Inform MD

Before taking Alecensa, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to Alecensa or to any of its ingredients
  • have liver problems
  • have lung or breathing problems
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed
  • have a slow heartbeat

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Alecensa and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

There have been no studies done in humans; however, when pregnant animals were given this medication some babies were harmed. Alecensa can cause fetal harm when given to a pregnant woman. 

Because of this, females who are able to become pregnant should use an effective method of birth control during treatment with Alecensa and for 1 week after completing Alecensa. Males who have female partners that are able to become pregnant should also use an effective method of birth control during treatment with Alecensa and for 3 months after completing Alecensa. Talk to your doctor about what the best method of birth control is for you. 

Alecensa and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. 

It is not known if Alecensa crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, it is recommended that women do not breastfeed while they are taking Alecensa and for 1 week after completing treatment with Alecensa. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby during this time.

Alecensa Usage

Take Alecensa exactly as prescribed.

Alecensa comes in capsule form and is taken twice daily, with food.

Do not open or dissolve the contents of the capsule. Swallow Alecensa capsules whole.

If you miss a dose of Alecensa, do not take your missed dose. Take your next dose at the scheduled time.

If you vomit after taking a dose of Alecensa, do not take an extra dose. Take your next dose at your regular time.

Alecensa Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on how you respond to this medication or if you experience certain side effects.

The recommended dose of Alecensa is 600 mg taken twice a day with food. 

Alecensa Overdose

If you take too much Alecensa, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If Alecensa is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

  • Do not store Alecensa at temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Store Alecensa capsules in the original container.
  • Keep Alecensa capsules dry and away from light.
  • Keep this and all medicines out of the reach of children.
  • Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory.