Sorafenib tablets (Nexavar)

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Sorafenib is given for cancer. It is taken twice a day.

Take the tablets either when your stomach is empty (which means taking your doses an hour before a meal or waiting until two hours afterwards), or after low-fat meals. Do not take the tablets after meals which have a high fat content as this will make the treatment less effective.

You will need to have regular check-ups so it is important that you keep your appointments with your doctor and/or hospital.

Type of medicineA kinase inhibitor anti-cancer medicine
Used forCancer (such as kidney cancer and liver cancer)
Also calledNexavar®
Available asTablets

In cancer, certain cells in the body grow and multiply in a way that is 'out of control'. Medicines like sorafenib slow down the way cancer cells grow and spread. Sorafenib belongs to a group of anti-cancer medicines known as kinase inhibitors. These work by blocking chemical messengers (called kinases) which send signals to cells to grow. In addition to this action, sorafenib also has a second way of working - it prevents the cancer from developing the blood vessels which it needs in order for its cells to grow. Together, these actions slow down the spread of cancer cells.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking sorafenib it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have an infection or feel particularly unwell.
  • If you have a heart condition or an unusual heart rhythm.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read any printed information you have been given by your doctor and the printed manufacturer's leaflet from inside the pack of tablets. These will give you more information about sorafenib and will provide a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Sorafenib will be prescribed for you by a specialist doctor who is experienced in treating your condition. It is important that you take the tablets exactly as you are told to. It is usual to be prescribed two tablets of 200 mg to take twice daily. The directions for taking the tablets will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you what your doctor has told you to do, but if you have any concerns or questions, you should contact your doctor or hospital clinic for further advice.
  • Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. You can take the tablets either when your stomach is empty (which means taking your doses an hour before a meal or waiting until two hours afterwards), or after a low-fat meal. Do not take your doses after meals which contain high amounts of fat. High-fat foods can interfere with the way your body absorbs sorafenib and this could make your treatment less effective.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless your next dose is due. If it is nearly time for your next dose, then take the dose which is due but leave out the forgotten dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
  • You must try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular check-ups during treatment.
  • If you buy or take any other medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take alongside sorafenib. You should not take any preparations which contain St John's wort (a herbal remedy used for low moods), as it can reduce the effectiveness of sorafenib.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, always tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • It is important that you do not get pregnant while you are taking sorafenib. If this could be a possibility for you, make sure you discuss with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with sorafenib. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects may improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common sorafenib side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
DiarrhoeaDrink plenty of water
Feeling or being sickStick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy foods
Aches and painsAsk your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Skin rashes and soreness (particularly on your hands or feet), bleeding problems, hair thinning, feeling tiredSpeak with your doctor for advice
High blood pressure, heart problems (let your doctor know straightaway if you get chest pain), changes to some blood testsYour doctor will regularly check for these

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Please return any unused or unwanted tablets to your clinic or pharmacy to destroy.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
28866 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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