Trade Name: Alecensa®
Alectinib is the generic name for the trade name drug Alecensa®. In
some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Alecensa®
when referring to the generic drug name alectinib.
: Alectinib is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic")
targeted therapy. It is classified as a tyrosine kinase inhibitor ALK
(anaplastic lymphoma kinase) gene mutation. (For more detail, see "How
Alectinib Works" below).
What Alectinib Is Used For
- For the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer
(NSCLC) that is caused by a defect in a gene called ALK (anaplastic
lymphoma kinase) who have progress or are intolerant to crizotinib.
The cancer must be ALK-positive as indicated by an FDA-approved
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to
use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Alectinib Is Given
- Alectinib is a capsule, taken by mouth.
- Take this medication with food.
- Swallow alectinib capsules whole. Do not open, crush or dissolve
- Do not change your dose or stop alectinib unless your health care
provider tells you to.
- If you miss a dose, take your next dose at your usually scheduled
time. Do not take an extra dose to make up for a missed dose.
- If you take too much alectinib, call your health care provider
right away and go to the emergency room.
- Do not repeat a vomited dose.
- Let your doctor know if you are starting any new medications as
some medications interact with alectinib.
The amount of alectinib that you will receive depends on many factors,
your general health or other health problems, and the type of side
effects that you may have. Your doctor will determine your exact dosage
Important things to remember about the side effects of alectinib:
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than
30%) for patients taking alectinib:
- Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
- Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset,
duration, and severity.
- There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side
effects and the effectiveness of the medication.
These are less common side effects (occurring in 10-29%) for
patients receiving alectinib:
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Fatigue (including weakness)
- Increased liver function tests: AST, ALT, bilirubin (liver
- High blood glucose (Hyperglycemia)
- Low blood calcium (hypocalcemia)
- Swelling (edema)
- Low potassium (hypokalemia)
- Muscle and bone pain
- Increased creatinine level
- Decreased lymphocyte count (white blood cells that fight
- Low blood phosphate (hypophosphatemia)
- Low blood sodium (hyponatremia)
- Skin rash
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Weight gain
- Slow heart rate
Not all side effects are listed above. Side effects that are very rare
-- occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not listed
here. Always inform your health care provider if you experience any
When To Contact Your Doctor Or Health Care Provider :
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you
should experience any of the following symptoms (may NOT be related to
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an
emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing
any of the following:
- Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, chills (possible
signs of infection)
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash, hives, itching, red,
swollen, blistered or peeling skin with or without fever, wheezing,
tightness in the chest or throat, trouble breathing or talking,
shortness of breath, a cough that is new or worse, unusual
hoarseness, or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
- Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period).
- Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs of dehydration:
tiredness, thirst, dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or
- Skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow.
- Urine turns dark or brown (tea color)
- Pain on the right side of your stomach
- Bleed or bruise more easily than normal
- Cough with or without mucus
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
- Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual
- Before starting alectinib treatment, make sure you tell your
doctor about any other medications you are taking (including
prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).
- Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without
your doctor's approval while taking alectinib.
- Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may
be pregnant prior to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D
(alectinib may be hazardous to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or
become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the
- For both men and women: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a
child (get pregnant) while taking alectinib. Barrier methods of
contraception, such as condoms, are recommended for up to 6 months
after last dose of alectinib.
- Do not breast feed while taking alectinib.
Monitoring and Testing While Taking Alectinib
- Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours,
unless you are instructed otherwise.
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people
with colds, and report fever or any other signs of infection
immediately to your health care provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by
your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals. Try taking alectinib at
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 30 (or higher) sunblock and
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a
minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- Remain active as you are able. Gentle exercise is encouraged such
as a daily walk.If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure
to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe
medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in
managing such problems.
You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking
alectinib to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy.
Periodic blood work will be obtained to monitor your complete blood
count (CBC), as well as organ function
How Alectinib Works :
Targeted therapy is the result of about 100 years of research dedicated
to understanding the differences between cancer cells and normal cells.
To date, cancer treatment has focused primarily on killing rapidly
dividing cells because one feature of cancer cells is that they divide
rapidly. Unfortunately, some of our normal cells divide rapidly too,
causing multiple side effects. Targeted therapy is about identifying
other features of cancer cells. Scientists look for specific differences
in the cancer cells and the normal cells. This information is used to
create a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without damaging
the normal cells, thus leading to fewer side effects. Each type of
targeted therapy works a little bit differently but all interfere with
the ability of the cancer cell to grow, divide, repair and/or
communicate with other cells. There are different types of targeted
therapies, defined in three broad categories. Some targeted therapies
focus on the internal components and function of the cancer cell. The
targeted therapies use small molecules that can get into the cell and
disrupt the function of the cells, causing them to die. There are
several types of targeted therapy that focus on the inner parts of the
cells. Other targeted therapies target receptors that are on the outside
of the cell. Therapies that target receptors are also known as
monoclonal antibodies. Antiangiogenesis inhibitors target the blood
vessels that supply oxygen to the cells, ultimately causing the cells to
starve. Alectinib is a targeted therapy. It is a tyrosine kinase
inhibitor (TKI). Tyrosine kinases are specific enzymes (a type of
protein) that may signal cancer cells to grow. TKI's block these cell
signals and by blocking the signals, they stop the growth of the cancer
cells. TKI's are named based on the enzyme that they block. Alectinib
blocks the abnormal ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) protein.
We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care
professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The
information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and
educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.