Panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone

Panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone are a combination of cancer drugs.

This combination is a treatment for myeloma. You may have it when other treatments have stopped working or the myeloma has come back.

How does panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone work?

Panobinostat and bortezomib are types of targeted cancer drugs called cancer growth blockers. They work in different ways to stop myeloma cells dividing and growing.

Dexamethasone is a steroid. It helps the other drugs to work better and kills myeloma cells.

How do you have panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone?

You take panobinostat as capsules, and dexamethasone as tablets. You have bortezomib as an injection under the skin.

Taking your tablets or capsules

You must take tablets and capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Talk to your specialist or advice line before you stop taking a cancer drug.

Injection under the skin

You usually have injections under the skin (subcutaneous injection) into the tummy (abdomen) or thigh.

You might have stinging or a dull ache for a short time after this type of injection but they don't usually hurt much. The skin in the area may go red and itchy for a while.

How often do you have panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone?

You have panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone as cycles of treatment Open a glossary item . Each cycle is 21 days. This means you have the drug and then a break to allow your body to recover.

You usually have between 8 and 16 cycles, depending on how well the treatment is working and if the side effects aren’t too bad.

For the first 8 cycles of treatment you usually have panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone in the following way:

Day 1
  • You have bortezomib as an injection under the skin.
  • You take panobinostat once a day.
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 2
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 3
  • You take panobinostat once a day.
Day 4
  • You have bortezomib as an injection under the skin. You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 5
  • You take panobinostat once a day.
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 6 and 7
  • You have no treatment
Day 8
  • You have bortezomib as an injection under the skin.
  • You take panobinostat once a day.
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 9
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 10
  • You take panobinostat once a day.
Day 11
  • You have bortezomib as an injection under the skin.
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 12
  • You take panobinostat once a day.
  • You take dexamethasone in the morning after breakfast.
Day 13 to 21
  • You have no treatment.

For cycles 9 to 16, you have treatment in a similar way but you have bortezomib once a week and dexamethasone twice a week. You continue with panobinostat 3 times a week.

Tests

You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

What are the side effects of panobinostat, bortezomib and dexamethasone?

How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatments you're having. For example, your side effects could be worse if you're also having other drugs or radiotherapy.

When to contact your team

Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will go through the possible side effects. They will monitor you closely during treatment and check how you are at your appointments. Contact your advice line as soon as possible if:

  • you have severe side effects 
  • your side effects aren’t getting any better
  • your side effects are getting worse

Early treatment can help manage side effects better. 

Contact your doctor or nurse immediately if you have signs of infection, including a temperature above 37.5C or below 36C.

We haven't listed all the side effects here. Remember it is very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects, but you might have some of them at the same time.

Common side effects

These side effects happen in more than 10 in 100 people (more than 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

Increased risk of getting an infection 

Increased risk of getting an infection is due to a drop in white blood cells. Symptoms include a change in temperature, aching muscles, headaches, feeling cold and shivery and generally unwell. You might have other symptoms depending on where the infection is.

Infections can sometimes be life threatening. You should contact your advice line urgently if you think you have an infection. 

Breathlessness and looking pale

You might be breathless and look pale due to a drop in red blood cells. This is called anaemia.

Bruising, bleeding gums or nosebleeds

This is due to a drop in the number of platelets in your blood. These blood cells help the blood to clot when we cut ourselves. You may have nosebleeds or bleeding gums after brushing your teeth. Or you may have lots of tiny red spots or bruises on your arms or legs (known as petechiae).

Less commonly, you might have bleeding in the stomach or bowel, or inside the skull (intracranial haemorrhage). Call your advice line if you have any signs of bleeding.

Loss of appetite and weight 

You might lose your appetite for various reasons when you are having cancer treatment. Sickness, taste changes or tiredness can put you off food and drinks.

Low levels of minerals in the blood

You might have low levels of phosphate, sodium or potassium in your blood. Less commonly, you might have low levels of calcium or magnesium. You will have regular blood tests to check for this.

Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

It can help to change a few things about how you try to sleep. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day and spend some time relaxing before you go to bed. Some light exercise each day may also help. 

Headaches or dizziness 

Let your doctor or nurse know if you have headaches. They can give you painkillers. Don’t drive or operate machinery if you feel dizzy.

Low blood pressure

Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel light headed or dizzy. You have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Less commonly you might have high blood pressure. Symptoms include headaches, nose bleeds, blurred or double vision or shortness of breath.

Breathlessness and cough 

Tell your doctor if you have a cough or feel short of breath. This could be due to different reasons, including an infection.

Less commonly you might have wheezing or there might be changes to how well your lungs are working.

Diarrhoea 

Contact your advice line if you have diarrhoea, such as if you've had 4 or more loose watery poos (stools) in 24 hours. Or if you can't drink to replace the lost fluid. Or if it carries on for more than 3 days.

Your doctor may give you anti diarrhoea medicine to take home with you after treatment. Eat less fibre, avoid raw fruits, fruit juice, cereals and vegetables, and drink plenty to replace the fluid lost.

Feeling or being sick 

Feeling or being sick is usually well controlled with anti sickness medicines. Avoiding fatty or fried foods, eating small meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water, and relaxation techniques can all help.

It is important to take anti sickness medicines as prescribed even if you don’t feel sick. It is easier to prevent sickness rather than treating it once it has started.

Indigestion

Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have indigestion or heartburn. They can prescribe medicines to help.

Tummy (abdominal) pain 

Tell your treatment team if you have this. They can check the cause and give you medicine to help. 

Tiredness and weakness (fatigue)

Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) can happen during and after treatment - doing gentle exercises each day can keep your energy up. Don't push yourself, rest when you start to feel tired and ask others for help.

Fluid build up 

You may have swelling of your hands and legs due to a build up of fluid (oedema). 

Occasional side effects

These side effects happen in between 1 and 10 out of every 100 people (between 1 and 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:

  • low thyroid hormone levels – symptoms include feeling tired, weight gain and feeling cold
  • high blood sugar levels
  • low level of fluid in the body (dehydration)
  • low levels of a protein in the blood called albumin
  • high levels of uric acid in the blood
  • fainting
  • shaking (tremor)
  • taste changes
  • changes in heart rate – you may feel like your heart is fluttering or pounding (palpitations)
  • sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up – tell your nurse if you feel dizzy or light headed
  • dry mouth or lips
  • inflammation of the lining of the stomach, or more rarely the bowel
  • liver changes - you have regular blood tests to check for any changes in the way your liver is working
  • skin redness or a rash
  • swollen joints
  • your kidneys not working properly (renal failure)
  • urine leakage (incontinence)

Rare side effects

This side effect happens in fewer than 1 in 100 people (1%):

  • heart attack – call an ambulance if you have chest pain or shortness of breath. The pain may move from your chest to your jaw, neck, arms or back

Coping with side effects

We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.

What else do I need to know?

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Grapefruit, pomegranate or star fruit 

You should avoid eating star fruit, grapefruit and pomegranate during treatment as they may increase the side effects of panobinostat. This includes avoiding drinking the juices of these fruits.

Pregnancy and contraception 

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you're having treatment. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Men

Men should use contraception during treatment and for 6 months after finishing treatment.

Women 

Women should use contraception during treatment and for 3 months after finishing treatment.

Loss of fertility 

It is not known whether this treatment affects fertility in people. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future.

Breastfeeding

It is not known whether these drugs come through into the breast milk. Doctors usually advise that you don’t breastfeed during this treatment.

Treatment for other conditions 

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and one of the shingles vaccines called Zostavax.

You can have:

  • other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • the flu vaccine (as an injection)
  • the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best time to have it in relation to your cancer treatment

Members of your household who are aged 5 years or over are also able to have the COVID-19 vaccine. This is to help lower your risk of getting COVID-19 while having cancer treatment and until your immune system Open a glossary item recovers from treatment.

Contact with others who have had immunisations - You can be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections. Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as the oral typhoid vaccine.

If your immune system is severely weakened, you should avoid contact with children who have had the flu vaccine as a nasal spray as this is a live vaccine. This is for 2 weeks following their vaccination.

Babies have the live rotavirus vaccine. The virus is in the baby’s poo for about 2 weeks and could make you ill if your immunity is low. Get someone else to change their nappies during this time if you can. If this isn't possible, wash your hands well after changing their nappy.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA).

You can report any side effect you have to the MHRA as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

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