tasigna side effects

Tasigna Side Effects & Warnings: What You Need to Know

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Written by BFH Staff Writer on June 6, 2024

Tasigna (nilotinib) is prescribed for the treatment of specific forms of leukemia, specifically chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). While Tasigna can be effective in managing CML, it is important to be aware of its potential side effects and warnings. 

If you are under medication using Tasigna, it is essential to learn more about its side effects and other important considerations for those taking this medication.

Understanding Tasigna Medication

Tasigna is a targeted therapy belonging to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) drug class. This medication blocks certain proteins that promote the growth of cancer cells and helps to slow down or stop the progression of CML. Tasigna is normally prescribed for adults and children diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+ CML) in the chronic phase.

Side Effects of Tasigna

Like all medications, Tasigna can cause side effects. Patients and caregivers need to be aware of these potential effects to manage them effectively and to seek medical attention when necessary. The potential side effects Tasigna can vary widely in severity and may differ from individual to individual:

Common Side Effects of Tasigna

Some of the more common side effects experienced by patients taking Tasigna include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: Gastrointestinal discomfort is a frequent side effect. Taking the medication on an empty stomach and following dietary recommendations can help mitigate these symptoms.
  • Rash and Itching: Skin reactions, such as rashes or itching, can occur. These are usually mild but should be reported to a healthcare provider.
  • Headache: Some patients may experience headaches while taking Tasigna.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or fatigued is a common side effect and may impact daily activities.
  • Muscle and Joint Pain: Pain in muscles and joints can occur, sometimes leading to discomfort and stiffness.
  • Diarrhea: Gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhea, are relatively common.

Serious Side Effects of Tasigna

Although most side effects of Tasigna can be effectively managed, some are more serious and necessitate prompt medical attention. These include:

  • Cardiovascular Issues: Tasigna has been associated with serious cardiovascular side effects, such as QT prolongation, which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Regular monitoring through electrocardiograms (ECGs) is recommended.
  • Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can cause extreme abdominal pain and other symptoms.
  • Liver Problems: Elevated liver enzymes and liver dysfunction may occur, requiring regular liver function tests.
  • Low Blood Cell Counts: Tasigna can result in low red and white blood cell counts, as well as platelets, which may raise the risk of anemia, infections, and bleeding.
  • Hyperglycemia: Increased blood sugar levels have been reported in some patients taking Tasigna. If you are at risk of diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar levels is crucial.

Long-Term Side Effects of Tasigna

Long-term use of Tasigna can lead to persistent side effects that may affect a patient’s quality of life. Here are some of the long-term side effects of Tasigna:

Potential Long-Term Side Effects of Tasigna

  • Cardiovascular Health: Long-term use of Tasigna may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and arterial occlusion. Regular cardiovascular assessments are recommended for long-term users.
  • Bone Health: Some patients may experience bone pain or decreased bone density, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Bone density scans can help monitor bone health over time.
  • Metabolic Changes: Long-term use of Tasigna can impact metabolism, leading to changes in blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Blood testing is important to monitor these changes.
  • Liver Function: Ongoing liver function tests are necessary to detect any long-term liver damage or dysfunction caused by Tasigna.

Warnings and Precautions

It’s important to let your healthcare provider know about any pre-existing medical conditions and medications you are taking before starting Tasigna. It is because certain conditions and medications can interact with Tasigna, potentially increasing side effects or decreasing the effectiveness of the treatment.

Important Considerations

  • Drug Interactions: Tasigna may interact with other medications, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements. It is important to discuss all medications with a healthcare provider to avoid potential interactions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Tasigna should not be used during pregnancy because it can be harmful to the unborn baby. Women of childbearing age should use effective contraception while taking Tasigna. Breastfeeding is also not recommended during treatment.
  • Dietary Restrictions: It’s important to steer clear of specific foods that can interact with the medication, including grapefruit and grapefruit juice, as they can heighten the risk of experiencing side effects.


Tasigna is an effective medication for managing chronic myeloid leukemia, but patients need to be aware of its potential side effects and warnings. Regular monitoring and open communication with healthcare providers are essential to manage side effects and ensure the best possible outcomes. By understanding the side effects of Tasigna, including long-term side effects, patients can take proactive steps to maintain their health and well-being while undergoing treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How should I manage common side effects like nausea and vomiting?

Taking Tasigna on an empty stomach and following dietary recommendations can help mitigate gastrointestinal discomfort. If side effects persist, consult your healthcare provider for additional management strategies.

What should I do if I experience serious side effects?

If you experience serious side effects such as cardiovascular issues, severe abdominal pain, or signs of liver dysfunction, seek immediate medical attention.

Can Tasigna affect my cardiovascular health?

Yes, long-term use of Tasigna can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Regular cardiovascular assessments and monitoring through electrocardiograms (ECGs) are recommended.

How often should I have check-ups while taking Tasigna?

Regular check-ups are important while taking Tasigna to monitor for side effects and assess your overall health. Your doctor will provide direction on the appropriate schedule for blood tests, ECGs, and other assessments.

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