Capecitabine can increase your risk of getting an infection. An infection is an emergency if you are having chemotherapy, and needs treating straight away. Read more about the signs of an infection, and how they are treated.
Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
Fatigue is a common side effect of capecitabine. It isn’t the same as feeling tired. Fatigue can make you feel weak and have problems concentrating. Some people find that the fatigue starts a few hours to a few days after having chemotherapy, and starts to get better after a few days. There are things that can help with fatigue.
Feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting)
This is a common side effect of capecitabine. You will normally be given anti-sickness medicines before your chemotherapy starts. If these medicines don’t help, speak to your chemotherapy team about changing to a different medicine. Read more about feeling and being sick.
If you find it hard to swallow the capecitabine tablets, or you are sick just after taking them, call your chemotherapy team for advice.
Sore hands and feet
Capecitabine can make the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet red and sore, and your skin may start to peel or blister. Your skin might also look shiny, feel tight and crack around the fingertips. Your doctor or nurse may give you a vitamin or creams to help with this. The soreness normally gets better when your chemotherapy finishes.
Sore mouth and mouth ulcers
Capecitabine can make your mouth sore, or cause mouth ulcers which can be painful. Tell your chemotherapy team about any problems with your mouth. They can make sure you don’t have a mouth infection, and give you a mouthwash which should help.
Loss of appetite
During your treatment you may not feel like eating, and you may start to lose weight. Try eating small meals often. If your appetite doesn’t get better after a few days, speak to your doctor or dietitian. We have tips on dealing with a loss of appetite.
Runny poo (diarrhoea)
If you have diarrhoea, make sure you drink lots of water. If you have it more than four times a day, tell your chemotherapy team. They can give you medicines to control it. You may be told to stop taking capecitabine, or your doctor can lower the dose. We have tips of dealing with diarrhoea.
You may have some tummy pain or discomfort when you are having capecitabine. Or you may have indigestion, lots of wind or feel bloated. You may also have trouble emptying your bowels (constipation). Your doctor can give you medicines to help with these side effects.
Some people get swelling in their feet, ankles, legs, fingers or face. This is because of a build-up of fluid, which is called oedema. This normally gets better by itself. If you have swelling in your feet, it may help to have your legs up on a cushion when you are sitting down. Your doctor may also be able to give you some medicines to help.
Anaemia (feeling tired or dizzy)
Capecitabine can lower the number of red blood cells in your blood. This is called anaemia, and can make you feel tired, dizzy or short of breath.