Generic Name: capecitabine, Oral tablet

Generic Name:

capecitabine, Oral tablet

Xeloda

All Brands

  • Xeloda
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for capecitabine

Oral tablet
1

Capecitabine is an oral drug used to treat colorectal and breast cancers.

2

Your dosage depends on your age, height, weight, and the type of cancer being treated. It also depends on your kidney function and any side effects you may have. Your doctor will decide a dosage that’s right for you.

3

Capecitabine can interact with blood thinner medications such as warfarin. This can make your blood take longer to clot. Severe bleeding can result, which can even be fatal. Tell your doctor if you’re taking a blood thinner.

4

This drug increases the risk of dehydration. This can lead to sudden kidney failure that can be fatal. You may be dehydrated if you lose your appetite, feel weak, are nauseated, or have vomiting or diarrhea.

5

Common side effects include stomach problems like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as tiredness and weakness. Other common side effects include jaundice (which causes yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes). They also include hand-foot syndrome (which causes swelling and pain on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet).

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects. 

Blood thinner interaction warning. Capecitabine can interact with blood thinner medications and make your blood take longer to clot. This can lead to severe bleeding and may even be fatal. Tell your doctor if you’re taking warfarin or another blood thinner. If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor right away:

  • frequent episodes of heavy bleeding
  • vomiting or spitting up blood or brown material that looks like coffee grounds
  • bloody or black, tarry stools
  • blood in your urine
  • red- or dark brown-colored urine
  • bruising more easily than normal

Kidney problems

This drug increases the risk of dehydration. This can lead to sudden kidney failure that can be fatal. You may have a high chance of dehydration if you lose your appetite, feel weak, are nauseated, or have vomiting or diarrhea. Stop taking capecitabine and call your doctor right away if you:

  • vomit 2 or more times in a day
  • are barely able to or can’t eat or drink due to nausea
  • have diarrhea

Skin and mouth problems

Capecitabine can cause serious problems with your skin and the inside of your mouth. This can even be fatal. Your doctor will stop giving you this drug if you have serious reactions, such as blisters, peeling of your skin, or severe sores in your mouth or on your tongue.

Low blood cell count

Capecitabine can increase the amount of red blood cell breakdown products (bilirubin) in your blood. This drug may also lower your white blood cell, platelet, and red blood cell counts. You have a higher risk of infection if your white blood cell count is too low.

Drug features

Capecitabine is a prescription drug. It is available as a tablet you take by mouth.

Capecitabine is available in its generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic version will work for you.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other drugs.

Why it's used

Capecitabine is used to treat colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) and breast cancer.

More Details

How it works

Capecitabine belongs to a class of drugs called antimetabolites. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly.

See Details

Why it's used

Capecitabine is used to treat colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum) and breast cancer.

  • Colorectal cancer: This drug can treat colon cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes near the colon (Duke C stage). It’s given after you have surgery to remove a tumor. This drug can also treat colorectal cancer that is metastatic. This means it has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Breast cancer: This drug can treat metastatic breast cancer. It may be given after treatment with other anti-cancer medications that haven’t worked. Or it may be given if you cannot receive further treatment with certain other drugs. In some cases, it may be given along with the medication docetaxel.

How it works

Capecitabine belongs to a class of drugs called antimetabolites. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells in your body.

SECTION 2 of 5

capecitabine Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that can occur with capecitabine include:

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • stomach pain

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes)

  • tiredness and weakness

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • bleeding problems. Symptoms can include:

    • frequent episodes of heavy bleeding
    • vomiting or spitting up blood or brown material that looks like coffee grounds
    • bloody or black, tarry stools
    • blood in your urine
    • red or dark brown urine
    • bruising more easily than usual
  • severe diarrhea. Symptoms can include:

    • 4 or more bowel movements per day
    • bloody diarrhea with severe stomach pain and a fever
  • heart problems. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • feeling faint
    • irregular heart rate or feeling like your heart is skipping beats
    • sudden weight gain
    • swollen ankles or legs
  • unexplained tiredness

  • serious skin and mouth problems. Symptoms can include:

    • symptoms of hand-foot syndrome, such as:
      • numbness, redness, severe pain, or swelling in your hands and feet
      • trouble walking or using your hands
    • skin rash, blisters, and peeling of your skin
    • sores in your mouth or on your tongue
  • infection. Symptoms can include:

    • fever
    • chills
    • cough
    • cuts or sores that don’t heal
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Capecitabine does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

capecitabine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Capecitabine can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Blood thinner drugs
  • warfarin

Capecitabine can interact with blood thinners and make your blood take longer to clot. This can lead to severe bleeding and may even be fatal.

Seizure drugs
  • phenytoin

Capecitabine can increase the levels of phenytoin in your body. This may lead to more side effects. Your doctor may have to lower your dose of phenytoin while you’re taking capecitabine.

Drugs to treat methotrexate overdose
  • leucovorin

Using these drugs together can increase your risk of side effects, such as diarrhea and dehydration. These can sometimes be severe and even fatal.

Other drugs
  • Anticoagulants
    • warfarin
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
    • irbesartan
    • losartan
  • Alkylating agents
    • cyclophosphamide
  • Anti-estrogens
    • tamoxifen
  • NSAIDs
    • celecoxib
    • diclofenac
    • ibuprofen
    • lornoxicam
    • meloxicam
    • naproxen
  • Statins
    • fluvastatin
  • Sulfonylurea
    • glibenclamide
    • glimepriride
    • glipizide
    • tolbutamide

Your doctor should closely monitor you if you take these medications. Using them in combination with capecitabine may raise your risk of side effects.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency

Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase is an enzyme that helps break down capecitabine in your body. If you have dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency, you may have more side effects from the medication.

People with kidney problems

This drug can cause dehydration, which may cause sudden kidney failure. If you already have kidney problems, you are at a higher risk of dehydration. Your doctor may change your capecitabine dose to reduce your risk.

People with liver problems

If you have liver problems, your doctor should carefully monitor you while you’re taking capecitabine. You may have a higher risk of side effects from this drug.

Pregnant women

Capecitabine is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies show a risk of adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. The benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy may outweigh the potential risks in certain cases.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Capecitabine should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if capecitabine passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a child who is breastfed.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take capecitabine or breastfeed.

For seniors

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. Because of this, you may have a higher risk of side effects. Your doctor may monitor you more closely for side effects from capecitabine. These can include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and hand-foot syndrome.

For children

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Allergies

Capecitabine cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it a second time after an allergic reaction could be fatal.

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take capecitabine (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Colorectal cancer

Brand: Xeloda

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 150 mg/500 mg

Generic: Capecitabine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 150 mg/500 mg

Your doctor will calculate your dose of this medication by using your body surface area (m2). This takes into account your height and your weight.

Adult dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • metastatic colorectal cancer:
    • this medication will be taken in 3-week cycles:
      • weeks 1–2: the dose is 1,250 mg/m2 taken by mouth in divided doses twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
      • week 3: you won’t take the medication.
  • Dukes stage C colon cancer:
    • this medication will be taken in 3-week cycles:
      • weeks 1–2: the dose is 1,250 mg/m2 taken by mouth in divided doses twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
      • week 3: you won’t take the medication.
    • it will be taken for a total of 8 cycles (24 weeks).
Child dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal in your body. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

Special considerations

Kidney problems: Your dosage of this drug will depend on how severe your kidney impairment is. If you have mild kidney disease (creatinine clearance 51–80 mL/minute), you may be able to take the standard adult dose. If you have moderate kidney disease (creatinine clearance 30–50 mL/minute) your doctor will lower your dose to 950 mg/m2. This is 75% of the usual dose. You will take the doses by mouth in divided doses twice per day. If you have severe kidney disease (creatinine clearance less than 30 mL/minute), you shouldn’t take this drug.

Breast cancer

Brand: Xeloda

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 150 mg/500 mg

Generic: Capecitabine

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 150 mg/500 mg

Your doctor will calculate your dose of this medication by using your body surface area (m2). This takes into account your height and your weight.

Adult dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • alone or in combination with docetaxel:
    • this medication will be taken in 3-week cycles:
      • weeks 1–2: the dose is 1,250 mg/m2 taken by mouth in divided doses twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
      • week 3: you won’t take the medication.
Child dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal in your body. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

Special considerations

Kidney problems: Your dosage of this drug will depend on how severe your kidney impairment is. If you have mild kidney disease (creatinine clearance 51–80 mL/minute), you may be able to take the standard adult dose. If you have moderate kidney disease (creatinine clearance 30–50 mL/minute) your doctor will lower your dose to 950 mg/m2. This is 75% of the usual dose. You will take the doses by mouth in divided doses twice per day. If you have severe kidney disease (creatinine clearance less than 30 mL/minute), you shouldn’t take this drug.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Capecitabine comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don't take it at all

Your cancer may not be treated and it may spread to other parts of your body. This can be fatal.

If you stop taking it suddenly

If your condition got better while taking the medication and you stop taking it suddenly, your symptoms of cancer may come back again.

If you don't take it on schedule

You may not see a full benefit of this medication for the treatment of your cancer. If you double up your dose or take it too close to your next scheduled time, you may have a higher risk of serious side effects.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s just a few hours before the time for your next dose, then take only one dose at that time.

Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in toxic side effects.

If you take too much

You may experience the following:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain and bleeding
  • lower white blood cell count

Treatment for an overdose of capecitabine should focus on correcting those symptoms.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may not be able to tell if this medication is working. Your doctor will do blood tests and scans to see how you’re responding to treatment.

Capecitabine is a long-term drug treatment.

Important considerations for taking capecitabine
take after meal You should take capecitabine with water within 30 minutes of finishing a meal
timing You should take capecitabine within 30 minutes of finishing a meal
do not crush Don’t cut or crush the tablet
storage Store at room temperature near 77°F (25°C) See Details
refillable Prescription is refillable
travel Travel See Details
clinical monitoring Clinical monitoring See Details
not usually stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead
hidden costs Hidden costs See Details
prior authorization Insurance See Details

Store at room temperature near 77°F (25°C)

This medication can be stored for a short time between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).

Keep this drug away from light.

Keep it away from high temperature.

Keep your drugs away from areas where they could get wet, such as bathrooms. Store this drug away from moisture and damp locations.

Keep this drug in its tightly closed container.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt this medication.
  • Keep the original prescription label with you. You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication.
  • Don’t leave this medicine in the car, especially when the temperature is hot or freezing.

Clinical monitoring

Before starting and during your treatment with this drug, your doctor may do blood tests to check:

  • your kidney function
  • your liver function
  • your blood cell counts
  • how fast your blood is clotting, if you’re also taking a blood thinner medication.

Hidden costs

You may need to pay for blood tests while you take this drug.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for capecitabine.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

What does the pill look like?

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SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does capecitabine Cost?

Oral tablet
We've partnered with GoodRX so you can compare prices and save money on your next prescription. Check out the lowest cash prices below and enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

Compare prices and save money on your next refill!

Lowest price for capecitabine

Walgreens $1,249.74
Rite-Aid $1,321.89
Walmart $2,104.66
These represent the lowest cash prices for capecitabine and may be lower than your insurance.

Find the lowest prices of capecitabine near you

These represent the lowest cash prices for capecitabine and may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on August 4, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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