Sunitinib (Sutent™)

Sunitinib (Sutent™) is an anti neoplastic (anti-cancer) drug indicated to treat an advanced form of kidney cancer, known as renal cell carcinoma (RCC) a cancer that forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products. It is also used to treat cancer of the digestive (gastrointestinal) system called gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) and has been of interest in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. It is called a stromal tumor because the cancer starts in a type of tissue called the stroma. This tissue is part of the walls of the stomach and intestines.

Sunitinib (Sutent) received a priority review and was approved in less than six months in January 2006 by the Food and Drug Administration. Its approval marked the first time the agency has approved an anti-neoplastic drug for two indications simultaneously. Sunitinib (Sutent) is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor working through multiple targets to deprive tumor cells of the blood and nutrients needed to grow (angiogenesis) and at the same time it slows down cancer cell proliferation. Sunitinib (Sutent) is supplied in 12.5,25 and 50 mg. hard gelatin capsules. Dosage will depend on the advice of your doctor however the recommended dosage cycle is one 50 mg. capsule taken orally, with or without food once a day for 4 weeks. The patient then stops taking it for 2 weeks (14 days) then starts the cycle again. Patient considerations are focused on managing the common side effects which are fatigue, bowel movement changes, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, skin problems such a possible development of white patches for dark skinned patients or yellow patches for lighter colored patients (that are reversible) and bleeding. The drug is under Pregnancy Classification D thus it is strongly advised not to take it when a patient is pregnant or breastfeeding. Possible adverse reactions may vary from patient to patient but may include heart problems, bowel wall perforation or bleeding from the tumor.

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