Zelboraf is the brand name of the medication vemurafenib. This cancer medication is classified as an antineoplastic, and it specifically belongs to a medication group called protein kinase inhibitors. It’s used to keep cancer from growing and spreading. It can cause cancer cells to stop or slow down when dividing and growing.

This medication is used mainly for adult patients who have melanoma. This is a kind of skin cancer. Patients who take this medication have a mutation in a gene called BRAF and can’t have their cancer removed through surgery or have had their cancer spread to other areas. Patients should have genetic testing before taking this medication to see whether they have the mutated BRAF gene.

Zelboraf is also used for treating patients who have a rare blood cancer called Erdheim-Chester Disease.

Precautions and Warnings With Zelboraf

There are several problems that this medication can cause. Certain groups of people will have higher chances of problems occurring. One such risk is developing new cancers. Those who have had skin cancer before or are 65 and up are more at risk. While you take this medication, you’ll have to be monitored for any signs of new cancers developing. If you see any skin changes, tell your doctor right away.

This medication is only for those who have a BRAF gene mutation. Patients who don’t have one may risk having their cancer cells grow instead of slowing down or stopping.

Taking this medication can also cause changes in your heart’s rhythm. If you already have heart failure or heart rhythm issues, you’re more at risk for this happening. This medication can cause a heart rhythm problem called QT prolongation. This causes there to be more time in between your heartbeats. If you have any heart problems, make sure your doctor knows about them before you take this one. If you’re taking another medication that can cause QT prolongation, it can be riskier to take this one. During your treatment, you will need regular EKGs to assess your heart rhythm in case of a problem.

It’s possible to get liver damage from taking Zelboraf. It can cause the liver not to work as well as it should. With liver damage, your blood cannot clot when needed. This can lead to excessive bleeding and bruising. You’ll need to have regular lab tests done to check the function of your liver. You could have liver damage with no signs or symptoms. Sometimes, patients get yellow on the skin or eyes or stomach pain.

This medication can also cause skin reactions and make you more sensitive to the sun. You could get a sunburn that is much more accessible when taking Zelboraf. When you go outside, wear protective clothing and sunscreen to prevent burns. It’s also possible to get a severe skin reaction from this medication. These can be severe enough to be life-threatening. If you have any changes in your skin, call your doctor immediately. Symptoms can include peeling skin, blisters, fever, and flu-like symptoms.

There are also eye problems possible when taking this medication. Some people have had changes to their vision while taking it. You may have light sensitivity, blurred vision, or swelling of the eyes that cause eye pain. Tell your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.

If you’re pregnant, it isn’t known whether Zelboraf causes harm to the baby, but it’s assumed that it can because of the way it works. It’s important to use birth control while using this medication. If you become pregnant while using it, inform your doctor immediately.

Zelboraf can cause patients to have a severe reaction if they get radiation. This is more likely in people who have previously received radiation therapy. Taking this medication, as well as getting radiation can result in skin problems such as rashes, bleeding, and severe wounds. If you see evidence of a reaction, call your doctor.

Taking this medication also gives you a risk of kidney failure. This is more likely to happen if you have kidney problems. This drug can cause you to have higher blood levels of creatinine, and this is caused by kidney damage. You’ll likely need to be checked regularly to ensure your kidneys function normally.

It’s rare, but it’s possible for patients taking this drug to develop hand and foot changes, some of which can be serious. This includes a condition that causes the fingers to be bent inward. Another possible condition causes the bottom of your foot to develop tissue growth. It’s usually mild when this happens, but it can be moderate to severe. Talk to your doctor immediately if you have any hand or foot changes.

It’s also possible for this medication to cause a severe allergic reaction in some patients. This can include anaphylaxis. If you have trouble breathing, get swollen lymph nodes, get a rash, have a fever, or get low blood pressure, you need emergency medical attention.

Side Effects of Zelboraf

Many common and uncommon side effects can come with this medication. Zelboraf tends to have many patients with side effects, but you might experience none at all.

Common Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects are:

  • Rash
  • Tiredness
  • Joint pain
  • Hair loss
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Skin papilloma – a skin growth that’s not cancerous
  • Vomiting
  • Thickened skin
  • Diarrhea

Uncommon Side Effects

Some less common side effects can include:

  • Less appetite
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Arm or leg pain
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Back or muscle pain
  • Leg or arm swelling
  • Taste changes
  • Weakness

Drug Interactions With Zelboraf

Be sure that your doctor knows everything you take, even if it’s something over the counter.

There are a lot of drugs that can interact badly with Zelboraf. It’s not recommended to take certain medications along with Zelborat. Some of those drugs include:

Zelboraf Strengths and Dosages

This medication is available in tablet form with a strength of 240 mg. A typical dose of this medication is four tablets taken every 12 hours.

Zelboraf tablets:240 mg

FAQs of Zelboraf

Can you take Zelboraf during pregnancy?

It’s generally considered risky to do so. Because of the way this medication works on the body, it’s believed to cause harm to the baby, even though we don’t have data on the outcomes. While you take this medication, use birth control.

Why is this medication prescribed?

It’s used to treat melanoma in certain patients. It can also be used to treat a rare blood cancer called Erdheim-Chester Disease.

Can I take this medication if I have liver or kidney problems?

If you have these health problems, it can make you more at risk for further organ damage when you take this medication. Your doctor will weigh the risks of taking it against the benefits.

What form does this medication come in?

Zelboraf comes in tablet form. Each one is 240 mg.

If I have a rash, should I stop taking it?

There are many different severities for rashes. Getting a mild rash is a common side effect. However, having a severe reaction to this medication can cause a more severe rash or painful blisters and wounds on the skin. If you have a severe rash, tell your doctor. Don’t go off this medication without talking to your doctor.

Do you need the BRAF gene mutation to take this medication?

If you are a melanoma patient, yes, you have to have this mutation, or you could have serious problems with taking this medication.

Can you lose hair when taking Zelboraf?

Yes, this is one of the more common side effects.

Does this medication cause eye problems?

Patients can have vision changes when taking this medication.

What is the cost of Zelboraf in America?

The price of this medication is very high, with 112 tablets costing about $6,000.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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