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What Is Capecitabine Used For?

Capecitabine is typically used to treat and prevent certain types of breast and colorectal cancer. In particular, capecitabine is used to prevent the return of colon cancer after surgery has removed the tumor, to treat metastatic colorectal cancer, and to treat metastatic breast cancer in people who have not had success with other types of treatment. There are currently no off-label capecitabine uses, and the medication is not approved for use in children.

What Is Capecitabine Used For?

Capecitabine (Xeloda®) is a prescription medication used to treat breast cancer and colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum). It is an oral chemotherapy medication, meaning that it is taken by mouth. Specifically, capecitabine is approved to be used:
 
  • Alone to prevent the return of colon cancer (that had spread to at least one lymph node) after surgery has removed the tumor.
     
  • Alone to treat metastatic colorectal cancer (cancer that spread to other parts of the body).
     
  • In combination with docetaxel (Taxotere®) to treat metastatic breast cancer in people whose tumors are resistant to anthracycline chemotherapy medications.
     
  • Alone to treat metastatic breast cancer in people whose tumors are resistant to both paclitaxel (Onxol®, Taxol®) and anthracycline chemotherapy medications (or cannot take any more anthracycline medications).
     

Understanding Breast Cancer

Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer, except for skin cancer. Each year, more than 211,000 American women learn that they have breast cancer. Most of the causes of breast cancer are not known. In 5 to 10 percent of these cases, there is a hereditary component. Common breast cancer symptoms include:
 
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels
  • Nipple tenderness
  • A change in how the breast or nipple looks
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A nipple turned inward into the breast
  • Nipple discharge (fluid).
     
In general, breast cancer treatment options can include:
 
The best treatments can vary by the stages of breast cancer (see Breast Cancer Treatment by Stage).
 
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Capecitabine (Xeloda)

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