ZYTIGA for Prostate Cancer Treatment

ZYTIGA (abiraterone acetate) is a prescription pill used together with prednisone to treat prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is approved for use in men with:

  • Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer – prostate cancer that has spread and no longer responds to medicines or surgery that lower testosterone
  • Metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer – prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and still responds to testosterone lowering treatment

How Does ZYTIGA Work?

  • ZYTIGA blocks an enzyme called CYP17 to lower the production of testosterone and other male hormones (androgens) in the body.
  • Prostate cancer cells use testosterone to grow. By lowering androgen levels, ZYTIGA helps slow or stop cancer progression.

Taking ZYTIGA

  • The usual dose is one 1,000 mg tablet taken orally once per day together with 5 mg prednisone.
  • ZYTIGA must be taken on an empty stomach, at least 2 hours after a meal and 1 hour before your next meal.
  • Swallow the tablet whole with water. Do not break, crush or chew the tablet.
  • Take prednisone once or twice daily as prescribed by your doctor while on ZYTIGA.
  • Do not stop taking ZYTIGA or prednisone or change dosages without first discussing with your healthcare provider.

Potential ZYTIGA Side Effects

As with any medication, ZYTIGA may cause certain side effects including:

  • Fatigue, joint discomfort, high blood pressure
  • Fluid retention causing swelling in legs/feet
  • Diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cough, respiratory infections
  • Hot flashes
  • Changes in liver function blood tests

Less Common but Serious Risks

  • Adrenal gland problems if prednisone is stopped abruptly
  • Liver injury – ZYTIGA can cause severe liver inflammation and damage in rare cases
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities such as irregular heartbeat
  • Interactions with certain diabetes drugs leading to severely low blood sugar

Important Safety Precautions

  • Take liver function blood tests before treatment and periodically during treatment.
  • Report any yellow skin/eyes, dark urine, nausea/vomiting to your doctor immediately.
  • ZYTIGA must not be taken by women who are or may get pregnant during treatment.
  • Use barrier contraception if engaging in sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy.
  • Tell your doctor about any other medical conditions and medications you are taking.
  • Avoid certain herbal supplements like St John’s Wort that can impact ZYTIGA effectiveness.

What Questions Do Patients Commonly Ask About ZYTIGA?

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about ZYTIGA:

Is ZYTIGA a form of chemotherapy?

  • No, ZYTIGA is not a chemotherapy agent. It works differently by blocking production of male hormones that drive prostate cancer growth.

What are the most common ZYTIGA side effects?

  • Fatigue, fluid retention, joint pain, and high blood pressure are most frequently reported. Digestive symptoms like diarrhea and nausea also occur.

Does ZYTIGA cause hair loss?

  • No, hair loss is not a direct side effect of taking ZYTIGA. However, some temporary thinning may happen with prednisone.

Can ZYTIGA be taken with food?

  • No, ZYTIGA must be taken on an empty stomach at least 1-2 hours before or after a meal. Taking it with food increases side effects.

How long do ZYTIGA benefits last?

  • Length of response varies between patients. Your doctor monitors progress to determine how long you can safely and effectively take ZYTIGA.