What Is Afinitor® (everolimus)?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: April 2022 | Last updated: October 2022

Afinitor® (everolimus) is a kinase inhibitor used in combination with a drug called Aromasin® (exemestane). Together, they are used to treat advanced breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR+) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative (HER2-) in postmenopausal women who have previously had treatment with Femara® (letrozole) or Arimidex® (anastrozole) and cancer progressed.1

What are the ingredients in Afinitor?

The active ingredient in Afinitor is everolimus.2

How does everolimus work?

Everolimus blocks the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Up to 70 percent of breast cancers have mutations on the mTOR pathway, which can fuel cancer growth.1

Everolimus is given in combination with Aromasin to delay or slow the growth of breast cancer cells in 2 ways:1

  • Aromasin helps block estrogen
  • Everolimus helps block the mTOR pathway

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of everolimus include:1,2

  • Mouth ulcers and sores
  • Infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling in the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or face
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Cough
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Weakness

Everolimus may also cause serious side effects, including:1,2

  • Breathing problems, such as inflammation of the lungs (pneumonitis)
  • Infections
  • Allergic reactions like hives, itching, rash, difficulty breathing, chest pain, or dizziness
  • Angioedema (in people taking certain drugs for high blood pressure), an allergic reaction that can cause swelling of the tongue, mouth, or throat, and/or difficulty breathing
  • Kidney failure
  • Problems with wound healing
  • Increased sugar and fat in the blood
  • Decreases in certain blood counts

These are not all the possible side effects of everolimus. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you during treatment with everolimus.

Other things to know

People receiving everolimus should not receive live vaccinations or be around others who have recently received a live vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are scheduled to get any vaccines or if you are unsure about them.1

Everolimus can harm an unborn baby. If you or your partner can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of everolimus. You should also not breastfeed during treatment with everolimus and for some time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking everolimus.1,2

Before starting treatment with everolimus, tell your doctor if you have:1,2

  • Current or previous kidney or liver problems
  • Diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Any infections
  • Previous infections of hepatitis B
  • Recent or planned surgery
  • Any unhealed wounds

Everolimus may interact with certain drugs, vitamins, and supplements. Before taking everolimus, tell your doctor if you are taking:1,2

  • St. John’s wort
  • Any medicines that weaken the immune system
  • Any medicines for fungal or bacterial infections
  • Tuberculosis drugs
  • Seizure drugs
  • HIV/AIDS medicines
  • Heart or blood pressure drugs

Before beginning treatment for breast cancer, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of everolimus.

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