Bexarotene (Oral)

Bexarotene (By Mouth)

Bexarotene (beks-AIR-oh-teen)

Treats skin sores associated with a type of cancer called T-cell lymphoma.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to bexarotene, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.  
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to take and how often. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than your doctor tells you to.  
  • It is best to take this medicine with food.  
  • Never share your medicine with anyone.

If a dose is missed::

  • If you miss a dose or forget to take your medicine, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose.  
  • Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.  
  • Keep this and all medicine out of the reach of children

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using erythromycin (Ery-Tabsreg;), gemfibrozil (Lopidreg;), itraconazole (Sporanoxreg;), ketoconazole (Nizoralreg;), rifampin (Rifadinreg;, Rifaterreg;, Rifamatereg;), phenytoin (Dilantinreg;), phenobarbital (Luminalreg;), or tamoxifen (Nolvadexreg;).  
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are taking this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • This medicine can cause birth defects if it is used by the mother while she is pregnant or by the father when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. Use two forms of birth control to avoid pregnancy for one month before your treatment, and while you are using this medicine. Continue using two forms of birth control for at least 1 month after your treatment ends. This is very important whether you are a man or a woman.  
  • Birth control pills may not work properly if you use them while you are taking bexarotene. If you use birth control pills during your treatment, use an additional barrier method of contraception (a condom, or diaphragm with spermicidal jelly). If a pregnancy occurs while you are using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.  
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have cataracts, High cholesterol, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid problems, cancer of the ovary, or a history of problems with your pancreas or bile ducts. Tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to tretinoin (Retin-Areg;), isotretinoin (Accutanereg;), or similar medicines.  
  • This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sunscreen when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, tightness in chest, trouble breathing  
  • Changes in vision  
  • Dark-colored urine  
  • Fever, chills, weakness  
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain  
  • Rapid weight gain  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Swelling in the hands, ankles, or feet  
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising  
  • Yellow skin or eyes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dry skin, itching, mild skin rash  
  • Muscle cramps or pain  
  • Weakness or tiredness

Johns Hopkins patient information

Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 16.02.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD

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