Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Anemia: Ibrutinib may cause low levels of red blood cells. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia) such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired, or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells, including red blood cells, in your blood.
Birth control: Effective birth control must be used during treatment and for at least 3 months after stopping therapy. If you are using birth control pills or another form of hormonal birth control, you should also use a barrier method such as condoms or diaphragms. Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant while using this medication.
Men who are taking ibrutinib must also use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 3 months after stopping therapy.
Bleeding: This medication may cause a reduced number of platelets in the blood, which can make it difficult to stop cuts from bleeding. If you notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, or black and tarry stools, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to make sure potential problems are caught early.
Diarrhea and dehydration: Ibrutinib causes diarrhea in many patients. Diarrhea causes fluid loss from the body and can complicate cancer treatment. If you experience diarrhea while taking ibrutinib, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Ibrutinib may affect the mental or physical abilities needed to drive or operate machinery. Avoid driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous tasks until you have determined how this medication affects you.
Increased white blood cells: When you first start to take ibrutinib, your blood tests may show a dramatic increase in the number of white blood cells in the body. This is a temporary occurrence and does not necessarily mean that the illness is getting worse. The number of white blood cells should slowly return to normal. Your doctor will monitor the progress of this with blood tests.
Infection: Ibrutinib reduces the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.
Liver function: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin.
Other cancers: People taking this medication have reported a higher number of other cancers such as melanoma. Talk to your doctor about cancer screening and your risk of developing another type of cancer.
Tumour lysis syndrome: Ibrutinib, like many other cancer medications, causes many cancer cells to be suddenly killed when treatment is first started. This can overwhelm the body with waste products from the cells. As a result, the body may not be able to keep up with getting rid of all the waste. When this happens, you may experience nausea, shortness of breath, cloudy urine, or joint pain. This is called tumour lysis syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help your body get rid of the waste products. Make sure you understand how to use these medications and report any of these signs or symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if ibrutinib passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Because of the risk of serious effects to the baby if it does pass into breast milk, breast-feeding should be discontinued while taking this medication.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
Seniors: Seniors may experience a greater number of side effects with this medication.