Capecitabine (By mouth)

Capecitabine (kap-e-SYE-ta-been)

Treats cancer, including breast and colorectal cancer.

Brand Name(s):

Capecitabine Avpak, Xeloda

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to capecitabine or 5-fluorouracil, you are pregnant, or you have DPD deficiency.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • Take this medicine with food or within 30 minutes after you eat.
  • Swallow the tablet whole with water. Do not cut, crush, break, or chew it. If the tablet must be cut or crushed, it should be done by a pharmacist.
  • Read and follow the patient instructions that come with this medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Missed dose: Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Some medicines can affect how capecitabine works. Tell your doctor if you are using a blood thinner (including phenprocoumon or warfarin), leucovorin, or phenytoin.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • This medicine may cause birth defects if either partner is using it during conception or pregnancy. Tell your doctor right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant. Female patients must use effective birth control during treatment and for 6 months after your treatment ends. Male patients with partners of childbearing potential should also use effective contraception during treatment and for 3 months after the last dose.
  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, or any type of infection.
  • Do not breastfeed during treatment and for 2 weeks after your last dose of this medicine.
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Increased risk of heart attack or other heart problems
    • Kidney failure
    • Serious skin reactions
  • This medicine could cause infertility. Talk with your doctor before using this medicine if you plan to have children.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Wash your hands often.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Chest pain that may spread to your arms, jaw, back, or neck, trouble breathing, nausea, unusual sweating, faintness
  • Diarrhea 4 or more times each day, diarrhea at night, bloody bowel movements, stomach pain
  • Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Fever of at least 100.5° or other signs of infection, such as chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Redness, pain, swelling, or blisters on your hands or feet, loss of fingerprints
  • Severe nausea, or vomiting more than 2 times in 24 hours
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet, unusual tiredness
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness, pale skin
  • Yellow skin or eyes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Mild diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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

Last Updated: 11/6/2020

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