What You Need to Know About Abemaciclib

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 12, 2021

Abemaciclib (or, Verzenio) is a medication regularly used to treat a specific variety of late-stage breast cancer. It is usually only prescribed when cancer has spread to other parts of your body. It works by blocking the signals your body sends cancer cells to multiply, which helps stop or limit cancer production.

In the past, abemaciclib has been mainly used for late-stage cancer or cancer that has recurred; there is now evidence to suggest, though, that it can be used in earlier stages of breast cancer. For example, one study found that people who took abemaciclib for two years were 30% less likely to have a second bout of breast cancer. However, whether or not you are a suitable candidate for this drug will be determined by your doctor.

You will take abemaciclib by mouth twice a day with food. When you first begin to take abemaciclib, your doctor should monitor your side effects very closely. If you start to exhibit specific symptoms, you will have to stop taking it. Typically, these types of signs have to do with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

Some of the other side effects that can be cause for concern are:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the upper stomach 
  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easy bruising 
  • Pain in your arms or legs
  • Swelling in your extremities
  • Chest pain 
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Symptoms of the common cold

Other side effects that may be less serious are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation 
  • Sores
  • Lessened appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Loss of hair
  • Itching 
  • Rash
  • Headaches 
  • Taste difference 
  • Dizziness
  • Joint pain 

While much success has been linked to abemaciclib and its ability to treat breast cancer, there is potential that it can cause a severe type of inflammation in the lungs. This inflammation is quite rare, but you should still be aware that it could happen.

Show Sources


MedlinePlus: “Abemaciclib.”

National Cancer Institute: “Trial Tests Ademaciclib As New Option for Early-Stage Breast Cancer.”

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