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Palbociclib (Ibrance), a targeted therapy, was the first CDK 4/6 inhibitor to be approved by the FDA. It targets two specific kinases, or enzymes, that help tumor cells grow and divide.

 

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How palbociclib works

Cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and 6 are two enzymes that help tumor cells grow. Palbociclib works by blocking the action of CDK 4 and 6 that signals cancer cells to multiply. This helps slow the growth or spread of cancer cells.

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Who gets palbociclib

Palbociclib is approved for use with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole (Femara) as initial or first-line treatment for postmenopausal women with metastatic, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.

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How palbociclib is given

Palbociclib is a pill. It is usually taken with food once a day, at the same time each day, for the first 21 days of a 28-day cycle. You and your doctor will discuss how many times you should repeat this cycle.

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Side effects and things to remember

The most common side effects of palbociclib are:

Call your doctor immediately if you have any signs of infection, shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, weakness or unusual bleeding.

Before starting palbociclib, be sure to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter medicines. Also tell your doctor if you have ever had liver or kidney disease. You should avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while you are taking this medicine.

You should avoid becoming pregnant while you are receiving palbociclib and for at least 2 weeks after taking the last dose. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant or may be pregnant while you are undergoing treatment.

Your doctor, pharmacist or nurse can help you manage your side effects. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.

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Reviewed and updated: August 31, 2015

Reviewed by: Kanu Sharan MD

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill its mission of providing trusted information and a community of support to those impacted by the disease, Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content. For over 30 years, the organization has remained committed to creating a culture of acceptance — where sharing the diversity of the lived experience of breast cancer fosters self-advocacy and hope. For more information, learn more about our programs and services.

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