Understanding ZYTIGA® for Prostate Cancer

ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) is a prescription pill used to treat prostate cancer in men. It is taken along with a steroid called prednisone to help slow the progression of prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a small walnut-sized gland located below the bladder in men that produces some of the fluid in semen. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate grow out of control. These cancer cells can spread (metastasize) to the bones and other organs.

Advanced prostate cancer that no longer responds to initial hormone therapy treatments is called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). ZYTIGA is approved to treat CRPC.

How ZYTIGA® works

  • ZYTIGA® blocks an enzyme called CYP17 to lower production of testosterone and other male hormones (androgens).
  • Prostate cancer cells use testosterone to grow. Lowering androgen levels can help slow the spread of prostate cancer.

Taking ZYTIGA®

  • The usual ZYTIGA® dose is one 1,000 mg tablet, taken once daily with prednisone.
  • Take ZYTIGA® on an empty stomach, at least two hours after a meal and one hour before your next meal.
  • Swallow the tablets whole with water – do not break, crush, or open the tablets.
  • Take prednisone exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Do not stop or change your ZYTIGA® or prednisone dose without speaking to your doctor first.

Common ZYTIGA® side effects

Like all medications, ZYTIGA® may cause side effects including:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Edema (fluid retention/swelling)
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium)
  • Hot flashes
  • Diarrhea, nausea/vomiting
  • Cough, sinus infection
  • High blood sugar
  • Low red blood cell count

Less common but serious risks:

  • Liver injury or failure
  • Adrenal crisis due to prednisone withdrawal
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Severe low blood sugar
  • Allergic reaction in lungs

Key precautions

  • Do not take ZYTIGA® if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Use contraception during treatment if having sex with a pregnant or potentially pregnant woman.
  • Tell your doctor about any medical conditions and all medications you take.
  • Have lab testing done regularly during treatment to monitor for side effects.

What questions do patients commonly ask about ZYTIGA®?

Is ZYTIGA chemotherapy?

  • No, ZYTIGA® is not a chemotherapy. It is an androgen receptor inhibitor that works by lowering testosterone production and blocking its effects.

What are the most common ZYTIGA side effects?

  • Fatigue, edema, joint pain, high blood pressure, and hypokalemia are the most frequent. Diarrhea, nausea, respiratory infections, and high blood sugar also occur.

Does ZYTIGA cause hair loss?

  • No, ZYTIGA® does not directly cause hair loss. However, the prednisone prescribed with it can sometimes lead to thinning hair.

Can I drink alcohol while taking ZYTIGA?

  • While on ZYTIGA®, limit alcohol to 1 drink occasionally. Heavy drinking can worsen liver problems that require monitoring.

In summary, ZYTIGA® with prednisone is an androgen deprivation therapy that can effectively treat advanced prostate cancer by lowering testosterone levels. Monitor side effects closely and take the medication correctly on an empty stomach. Let your medical providers know if you have any questions!