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Dabrafenib is a medication for the treatment of skin cancer called melanoma. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication. This belongs to a class of medications known as kinase inhibitors. Dabrafenib blocks the action of an abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply. This stops the spread of cancer cells. Dabrafenib comes as a capsule for oral use. Each capsule is available in the dosage strengths of 50 mg and 75 mg. 

Melanoma is one of the most serious types of skin cancer which develops in the cells that produce melanin. This condition can form in your eyes and seldom in internal organs. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps and beds increases your risk of developing melanoma. The risk of melanoma seems to be increasing in people under 40, especially women. Knowing the warning signs of skin cancer can help ensure that cancerous changes are detected and treated before cancer has spread. Melanoma can be cured effectively if it is noticed early. The symptoms of this condition can develop anywhere on your body. They most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun. Melanomas can also occur in areas that don’t receive much sun exposure like palms of your hands or soles of your feet. These hidden melanomas are more common in people with darker skin. The first melanoma signs and symptoms often are:

  • The development of a new pigmented or unusual-looking growth on your skin
  • A change in an existing mole

Melanoma happens when something goes indirect in the melanin-producing cells that give color to your skin. Usually, skin cells cultivate in an organized and logical way where healthy new cells push older cells toward your skin’s surface. It is as well where they die and eventually falls off. But when some cells develop DNA damage, new cells may initiate to grow out of control and can ultimately form a mass of cancerous cells.

Just what damages DNA in skin cells and how this leads to melanoma isn’t clear. It’s likely that a combination of factors which includes an environmental and genetic factor. Still, doctors believe exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and tanning lamps and beds is the leading cause of melanoma. The UV light doesn’t cause all melanomas, especially those that happen in places on your body that don’t receive exposure to sunlight. This shows that other factors may contribute to your risk of melanoma.

How does Dabrafenib work?

Dabrafenib interferes with the pathways that signal certain types of skin cancer cells to develop. Approximately 90% of melanoma cases are caused by a mutation in a gene called BRAF. The genetic mutation causes the melanoma cells to produce abnormal proteins that make the cells grow and multiply abnormally. These proteins are called kinases.

This medication works by inhibiting the action of the abnormal kinases produced by skin cancer cells that have a genetic mutation called BRAF V600. By targeting these abnormal kinases, Dabrafenib stops the signals that tell the cancer cells to grow and multiply.

How to use Dabrafenib?

Dabrafenib is to be taken by mouth usually twice a day. Each dose is taken on an empty stomach, an hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Take this medication about 12 hours apart. Remember to take at the same time and in the same way every day. Carefully follow the instructions on your medicine label and ask your doctor to explain any part you don’t get. Swallow the capsules whole. Do not open, break, or crush them.

Take Dabrafenib exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor.

Your doctor may adjust your dose or temporarily stop your treatment depending on your response to treatment and any side effects that you experience. Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling during your treatment. Drink plenty of fluids while having this treatment. If you missed a dose, call your doctor for further instructions. 

What are the side effects of Dabrafenib?

Common side effects:

  • Dry skin
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood sodium
  • Low blood phosphate
  • High blood sugar
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Wart-like growths
  • Decreased appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Peripheral edema
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Cold symptoms
  • Cough
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches or pain
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Chills 
  • Fever 
  • Rash 
  • Swelling, redness, numbness on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet 
  • Hair loss reddening of the skin

Call your doctor right away if you have these side effects:

  • Changes in the size or color of a mole
  • Light-headedness 
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst
  • Eye pain
  • Decreased urination
  • Vision changes 
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising 
  • Bloody or back starry stools 
  • Fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat 
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes 

Warnings and Precautions

  • Before treatment with this medication, the electrical activity in your heart should be monitored using ECG. You should also have a blood test to check the level of electrolytes such as magnesium in your blood. 
  • This medicine may cause fever. If you develop a fever while taking this medicine, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
  • If you experience any disturbances in your vision such as eye pain, increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, redness or irritation while taking this medicine, you should tell your doctor right away. 
  • Your ability to get pregnant or father a child may be affected by treatment with this medicine. It is important to discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment.
  • You should let your doctor know if you experience nausea or vomiting, sudden unexplained stomach or abdominal pain while taking this medicine. These could be symptoms of inflammation of your pancreas which will need treatment.
  • This could be harmful to a developing baby. Consult your doctor first if you are pregnant. If you get pregnant while taking Dabrafenib, call your doctor right away. 
  • This is not recommended for use if you are allergic to it. Inform your doctor if you have any allergies.