Sorafenib

Brand names

Nexavar® (There may be other names for this medication)

How Is It Administered?

Sorafenib comes as a tablet. Take it by mouth without food, one hour before OR 2 hours after a meal.

What Is It Used For?

This medicine is used to treat advanced renal cell cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer).

How Does it Work?

Sorafenib is a type of target therapy rather than a traditional chemotherapy drug. Traditional chemotherapy drugs identify cancer cells by their rapid rate of reproduction, and then attack those cells. Unfortunately, there are many cells in our bodies that normally reproduce rapidly and these cells are also affected by traditional chemotherapy drugs, resulting in many side unpleasant effects.

Targeted therapy is about identifying other features of cancer cells. Scientists look for specific differences between cancer cells and normal cells. This information is used to create a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without damaging the normal cells, thus leading to fewer side effects. Each type of targeted therapy works a little bit differently but all interfere with the ability of the cancer cell to grow, divide, repair, and/or communicate with other cells.

Sorafenib blocks the ability of the tumors to grow in a few ways: it targets some of the enzymes on the surface of the cancer cells and some within the cancer cells. These “targets” are then attacked by your body’s immune system. Some of these enzymes are thought to be involved in a process called angiogenesis, the making/growing of blood vessels.

As tumors grow, they require larger supplies of nutrients, so they build new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to supply itself. Anti-angiogensis therapies, such as sorafenib, block the tumors ability to create these new blood vessels, helping to “starve” the tumor, interfering with its growth, and its ability to survive.

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