Where is Ibrutinib used?

Ibrutinib is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of adults with:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL)
  • Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) who have received at least one prior treatment
  • Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia
  • Chronic graft versus host disease after failure of one or more lines of systemic therapy
  • Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) who require systemic therapy and have received a certain type of systemic therapy

This belongs to the group of drugs called kinase inhibitors. Ibrutinib is a targeted therapy that inhibits the function of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK). It helps slow or stops the growth of cancer cells.

How does Ibrutinib work?

Ibrutinib is not a chemotherapy drug but considered a targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a result of years of research dedicated to understanding the differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer treatment, at present, has focused primarily on killing fast-dividing cells because one feature of cancer cells is that they multiply quickly. Conversely, some of the normal cells divide quickly which causes multiple side effects.

Targeted therapy like this drug is about identifying other features of cancer cells. Experts look for certain differences in the normal and cancer cells. This data is used to make a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without harming the normal cells which lead to lesser side effects. Each variety of targeted therapy works differently but all inhibit the capability of the cancer cell to divide and communicate with other cells.

Ibrutinib inhibits the function of BTK which is a key signaling molecule of the B-cell receptor signaling complex that plays an important role in the survival of malignant B cells. This drug blocks signals that stimulate malignant B cells to divide and grow uncontrollably.

How is Ibrutinib taken?

  • This medicine comes as a capsule to be taken by mouth.
  • You may take 1 to 4 capsules at once depending on your given dosage.
  • Swallow the medicine as a whole with a glass of water.
  • Do not change your dose and take it exactly as prescribed.

What are the possible side effects of Ibrutinib?

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Bruising
  • Nausea
  • Swelling
  • Decreased platelets, hemoglobin, and neutrophils
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle spasms

What are the precautions in taking Ibrutinib?

  • Do not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit while you are taking this drug. Grapefruit may increase the amount of this drug in your blood.
  • Make sure to tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking before starting a treatment with this prescription.
  • Consult your doctor first before taking this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  • Do not breastfeed while having a dose of this drug.
  • Do not receive any vaccination or immunization while having this treatment.
  • Ibrutinib can make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Limit your time in the sun and wear protective clothing when going outside. If you get sunburned, call your doctor right away. 
  • Avoid people with any type of infection and avoid crowds. You may be vulnerable to infections while having this treatment.