Gefitinib (By mouth)
Treats non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to gefitinib, or if you are pregnant.
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.
- Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- You may take this medicine with or without food.
- If you are not able to swallow the tablet, you may dissolve the tablet in half of a glass of non-carbonated water. Drop the tablet in the water without crushing it and allow it to dissolve. Drink the water immediately after it is dissolved. Rinse the glass with half a glass of water and drink. This liquid can also be given through a naso-gastric tube if you cannot take medicine by mouth.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
- If you vomit after taking your medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using rifampin (Rifadin®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), or a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin®). Tell your doctor if you are using medicine to treat a fungal infection such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, Nizoral®, or Sporanox®. Also tell your doctor if you are using a stomach medicine such as cimetidine, ranitidine, Tagamet®, or Zantac®.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are breast feeding. Tell your doctor if you have liver disease, kidney disease, or pulmonary fibrosis (scar tissue in your lungs). Tell your doctor if you have ever been treated with chemotherapy or radiation for cancer in the past.
- Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
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.
- Eye pain or trouble seeing.
- Severe or ongoing diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite.
- Severe skin rash.
- Sudden or increased breathing problems, cough, or fever.
- Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Dry skin or acne.
- Mild diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
- Mild skin rash.
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 Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013