RCC101: Managing side effects of treatments for RCC

If you or a loved one is taking medications for advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), here are some serious side effects you should watch out for. Some can affect several drugs that fall into the same class.1-4

These side effects include high-blood pressure, risk of blood clots, diarrhea, lung inflammation, and flu-like symptoms.1-4

Side effects of treatments for advanced RCC

Drug classes (generic name) Side effects to note
Most targeted therapies

Inlyta
(axitinib)
Avastin
(bevacizumab)
Cabometyx
(cabozantinib)
Lenvima
(lenvatinib)
Votrient
(pazopanib)
Nexvar
(sorafenib)
Sutent
(sunitinib)

High-blood pressure: Some treatments within this class can increase systolic and diastolic blood pressure by as much as 25 mmHg within the first week.5,6

You can help your doctor monitor your condition by measuring blood pressure regularly while on treatment.

 

Risk of blood clots: Rare but serious episodes of blood clots, including stroke and heart attacks, have been reported.2,7,8

Symptoms to watch out for include facial drooping, inability to raise both arms, and slurred speech.

 

Diarrhea: This is a commonly reported side effect for this type of treatment. Most cases appear mild but serious episodes of diarrhea can occur.1,9,10

Talk to your doctor about adjusting the treatment dosage in cases of severe diarrhea.

Immunotherapy

Opdivo
(nivolumab)

 

Lung inflammation: This is a rare but potentially serious side effect with Opdivo and other immunotherapies currently under clinical development.4

Symptoms to watch out for include shortness of breath, fever, chest pain, and coughing up blood.4

High-dose IL-2 Flu-like symptoms: High-dose IL-2 is known to be difficult to tolerate for its severe side effects that may feel like an influenza infection.4

Symptoms to watch out for include fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle pain.4

 
 

These are not all the side effects that can occur. As a rule of thumb, always tell a doctor or nurse about unexpected symptoms.

To learn more:

RCC101

References: 1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN guidelines: Kidney cancer version 3.2016. Available at: https://www.nccn.org. Accessed on August 11, 2016. 2. UpToDate. Toxicity of molecularly targeted antiangiogenic agents: Cardiovascular effects. Available at http://www.uptodate.com. Accessed on August 26, 2016. 3. UpToDate. Toxicity of molecularly targeted antiangiogenic agents: Non-cardiovascular effects. Available at http://www.uptodate.com. Accessed on August 26, 2016. 4. Weber JS, et al. J Clin Oncol 2015;33(18):2092-9. 5. Maitland ML, et al. Clin Cancer Res 2009;15(19):6250-7. 6. Azizi M, et al. N Engl J Med 2008;358(1):95-7. 7. van Cutsem E, et al. J Clin Oncol 2012;30(28):3499-506. 8. Zangari M, et al. J Clin Oncol 2009;27(29):4865-73. 9. Rini BI, et al. Lancet 2011;378(9807):1931-9. 10. Motzer RJ, et al. N Engl J Med 2007;356(2):115-24.

Last updated: September 17, 2016.
Photo adapted from original by Charles Williams, used under license.

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