Sachin Sarcoma Society


Sunitinib is a targeted therapy and is angiogenesis inhibitor (It doesn’t kill tumor cells directly but decreases its blood supply so tumor is unable to grow and decreases in the size)

What Sunitinib Is Used For:

  • Treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
  • Alveloar soft part sarcoma, solitary fibrous tumor
  • Relapse refractory pheochromocytoma

Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.

How Sunitinib Is Given

  • As a capsule taken by mouth.
  • May be taken with or without food. 
  • The amount of Sunitinib that you will receive depends on several factors, including your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition you have. Doctor decide the dose of drug according to tolerance and fitness

Sunitinib Side Effects

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Sunitinib:

  • Fatigue 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Heartburn 
  • Taste changes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Low blood counts. Your white and red blood cells and platelets may temporarily decrease. This can put you at increased risk for infection, anemia and/or bleeding.
  • Skin discoloration (possibly due to the drug color – yellow) 

The following side effects are less common (occurring in 29-10%) for patients receiving Sunitinib:

  • Poor Appetite
  • Headache 
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding 
  • Fever
  • Dry skin 
  • Swelling of ankles and feet 
  • Dizziness 
  • Increased amylase and lipase levels
  • Shortness of breath
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Rash
  • Flatulence 
  • Hand –foot syndrome (Palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia or PPE) –skin rash, swelling, redness, pain and/or peeling of the skin on the palms of hands and soles of feet. 
  • Dehydration 
  • Low potassium levels 
  • Increased bilirubin levels
  • Hair color changes 
  • Cough
  • Hypothyroid
  • Hair loss

Rare (2-3%) but serious side effects may include problems with blood clots. Blood clots can lead to pulmonary embolus or stroke – potentially life-threatening conditions.

This list includes common and less common side effects for those taking Sunitinib.  Side effects that are very rare — occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients — are not listed here. But you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual or exaggerated symptoms.

Sunitinib Precautions

  • Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (may be hazardous to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the fetus.)
  • For both men and women: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking Sunitinib. Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended.
  • Do not breast feed while taking Sunitinib.
  • To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water. Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
  • To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals.
  • Prevention of hand-foot syndrome. Modification of normal activities of daily living to reduce friction and heat exposure to hands and feet, for about a week after treatment.
  • Keep palms of hands and soles of feet moist using emollients.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.

Monitoring and Testing While Taking Sunitinib

You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking sunitinib, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work will be obtained to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) the function of other organs (such as your kidneys and liver) as well as your thyroid function.  These will also be ordered by your doctor.