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Alecensa (alectinib)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: August 2023 | Last updated: August 2023

Alecensa® (alectinib) is a targeted therapy that is used to treat adults with non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) that:1

  • Is caused by a defect in a gene called anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), and
  • Has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic)

About 5 percent of all lung cancers are ALK-positive. People who develop ALK-positive lung cancer are often younger and have a history of light or no smoking.2

Your doctor will perform a genetic test to find out whether Alesensa is right for you.1

What are the ingredients in Alecensa?

The active ingredient in Alecensa is alectinib.1

How does Alecensa work?

Alecensa works by blocking the activating sites (tyrosine kinases) of several proteins within cancer cells. These proteins can cause cancer growth when the tumor has an ALK mutation. By blocking the proteins, Alecensa may shrink the cancer or slow its growth.1

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Alecensa include:1

  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Swelling in your hands, feet, ankles, and eyelids
  • Muscle pain, tenderness, and weakness
  • Low red blood cell counts (anemia)

These are not all the possible side effects of Alecensa. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Alecensa. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Alecensa.

Other things to know

Limit time in the sun during and after treatment with Alecensa. lecensa may make your skin sensitive to sunlight. You may burn more easily and get severe sunburns. When in the sun, wear a hat and protective clothing, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip balm with SPF of 50 or greater to protect against sunburn.1

Before starting treatment with Alecensa, tell your doctor if you have:1

  • Liver problems
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • A slow heartbeat

Alecensa can harm an unborn baby. If you or your partner can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of Alecensa. You should also not breastfeed during treatment with Alecensa and for some time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking Alecensa.1

Before beginning treatment for lung cancer, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Alecensa.

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