Everolimus (Afinitor) is a type of targeted therapy called an mTOR inhibitor, or a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor. It stops cancer cells from dividing and may block the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Everolimus was the first mTOR inhibitor approved for treating metastatic breast cancer.
mTOR is a protein kinase, a type of enzyme that helps control cell growth. In some cancers, mTOR-activated proteins work abnormally and encourage cancer cells to grow and spread. mTOR also directs nutrients to the cancer cells, helping to support them.
Everolimus works to slow or stop mTOR’s role in the growth of cancer cells. Paired with aromatase inhibitors like exemestane (Aromasin), everolimus slows cell growth by blocking nutrients and directions from mTOR, as well as the estrogen that encourages growth.
Everolimus is an effective treatment but it has some possible serious side effects. When choosing treatments a treatment, you and your doctors should discuss how you can keep your quality of life high while you manage the disease.
Common side effects may include:
Less common side effects may include:
- Low white blood cell count
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Lung problems
- Dry skin
- Rare kidney problems
Before starting everolimus, be sure to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter medicines.
You should avoid becoming pregnant while you are receiving everolimus. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant or may be pregnant while you are undergoing treatment.