Cancer Home > Precautions and Warnings With Abiraterone
Abiraterone is not suitable for everyone, so before taking this medicine, make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have heart problems, liver disease, or any other medical conditions. Other precautions for abiraterone include warnings of potential problems this drug may cause, such as liver damage, low blood potassium levels, and allergic reactions. Also, abiraterone should not be taken by women who are pregnant.
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Taking Abiraterone?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking abiraterone acetate (Zytiga™) if you have:
- Heart problems, including heart failure
- An abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Had a recent heart attack
- Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
- A history of problems with your adrenal or pituitary gland
- Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Abiraterone Precautions and WarningsSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this medicine include the following:
- Abiraterone is used in combination with prednisone. Do not stop taking prednisone while taking abiraterone, unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise. Stopping prednisone abruptly may cause symptoms of prednisone withdrawal or adrenal insufficiency.
- People taking prednisone may develop adrenal insufficiency during times of infection or stress. The side effects of abiraterone can make it more difficult to recognize signs of adrenal insufficiency. Therefore, your healthcare provider may need to closely monitor you, and possibly adjust your prednisone dose, if you have an infection or are under stress.
- Your healthcare provider will monitor your liver function, using blood tests, before you start abiraterone and at least monthly thereafter (more often in the first three months of treatment). If your liver enzymes become too elevated, which could be a sign of liver damage, your healthcare provider will tell you to stop abiraterone and restart you at a lower dose once your liver enzymes return to normal. If your liver enzymes do not return to normal, you will not be restarted on abiraterone.
- Abiraterone can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), low blood potassium levels (hypokalemia), and fluid retention (edema). Your healthcare provider will monitor you for these problems at least once a month. Tell your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms such as:
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- A rapid heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
- Leg pain or cramps
- Swelling in the legs and feet.
- Abiraterone may react with a number of other medications (see Drug Interactions With Abiraterone for more information).
- Abiraterone is a pregnancy Category X medication. This means that it should not be used in women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant (see Zytiga and Pregnancy).
- It is unknown if abiraterone passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Zytiga and Breastfeeding).