Sutent (sunitinib malate) is a prescription drug used to treat certain types of cancer. The drug comes as an oral capsule that’s usually taken once per day.

Specifically, Sutent is used in adults:

  • to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). It’s used after treatment with imatinib (Gleevac) if you are not able to tolerate imatinib or your condition worsens after taking it.
  • to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) This is a type of kidney cancer that has spread outside the kidneys.
  • as an adjuvant treatment of RCC in people at high risk of kidney cancer returning after nephrectomy (surgery to remove localized kidney cancer). Adjuvant means it’s an extra treatment after your first cancer treatment, used to lower your risk of the cancer from returning.
  • to treat progressive pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNET). For this use, Sutent is used for PNET that:
    • cannot be removed by surgery
    • is locally advanced (near the pancreas) or metastatic (spread to other areas of the body)
    • is well differentiated (meaning the cells are slow growing and resemble natural cells)

The active ingredient in Sutent is sunitinib malate. Sutent belongs to a group of drugs called kinase inhibitors.

This article describes the dosages of Sutent, as well as its strengths and how to take it. To learn more about Sutent, see this in-depth article.

This section describes the usual dosages of Sutent. Keep reading to learn more.

What is Sutent’s form?

Sutent is available as an oral capsule.

What strengths does Sutent come in?

Sutent comes in four strengths:

  • 12.5 milligrams (mg)
  • 25 mg
  • 37.5 mg
  • 50 mg

What are the usual dosages of Sutent?

Sutent’s dosage varies depending on the condition it’s being used to treat. The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs and may adjust your dose based on how you react to the drug.

Dosage for GIST

The typical Sutent dosage for adults with GIST is based on a 6-week treatment cycle. You’ll take 50 mg of Sutent once per day for the first 4 weeks of treatment, followed by 2 weeks without Sutent. This completes a 6-week treatment cycle.

You’ll continue this treatment schedule (4 weeks on, 2 weeks off) until either your condition worsens or you have serious side effects.

Dosage for advanced RCC

For adults with advanced RCC, the typical dosage of Sutent is based on 6-week treatment cycles. You’ll take 50 mg of Sutent once per day for 4 weeks, followed by 2 weeks without Sutent. This completes one 6-week cycle.

You’ll continue this treatment schedule (4 weeks on, 2 weeks off) until either your condition worsens or you have serious side effects.

Dosage for adjuvant treatment of kidney cancer

For adults taking Sutent as an adjuvant treatment for RCC, the typical dosage is based on 6-week treatment cycles. You’ll take 50 mg Sutent once per day for 4 weeks, followed by 2 weeks without Sutent.

You’ll take Sutent for nine 6-week treatment cycles (4 weeks on, 2 weeks off, nine times). Then you’ll stop treatment with Sutent.

Dosage for pancreatic cancer

The typical Sutent dosage for adults with certain types of PNET is 37.5 mg once per day. You’ll take this dose until your cancer worsens or you can no longer tolerate the medication.

If you have questions about your dosage of Sutent for PNET, talk with your doctor.

Is Sutent used long term?

Maybe. How long you’ll take Sutent depends on several factors, including:

  • the condition the drug is being used to treat
  • how you respond to treatment
  • whether you can tolerate the medication

You may take Sutent long term for GIST, advanced kidney cancer, and PNET. You’ll only take Sutent for nine 6-week treatment cycles as an adjuvant treatment for RCC.

If you have questions about how long you’ll take Sutent, talk with your doctor.

Dosage adjustments

In certain cases, you may need dosage adjustments for Sutent.

Liver damage: Sutent has a boxed warning about the risk of liver damage. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Taking Sutent may cause liver damage (hepatotoxicity), which can be severe, and in rare cases, may cause liver failure or death. Your doctor will closely monitor your liver function while you’re taking Sutent. They may adjust your dose or pause or stop your treatment if you experience liver problems with this medication.

Heart problems: If you have or have had heart problems, including irregular heart rhythm, your doctor may decrease your dosage of Sutent to help prevent an arrhythmia.

If you have questions about your dosage, talk with your doctor to learn more.

The dosage of Sutent you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:

  • the type and severity of the condition you’re taking the drug to treat
  • side effects you may experience
  • other medications you take
  • other conditions you may have (see the “Dosage adjustments” section above)

Sutent comes as a capsule you swallow. You can take it with or without food. Try to take it around the same time each day to keep a consistent level of the drug in your body.

Sutent interacts with grapefruit. Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice during your treatment with Sutent. Doing so can increase your risk of side effects from the drug.

If you have difficulty swallowing capsules, see this article for tips on how to take this form of medication.

For information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Sutent, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Accessible drug containers and labels

Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:

  • have large print
  • use braille
  • feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio

Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy doesn’t.

Let your pharmacist know if you have difficulty opening medication bottles. They may have tips to help, or they may be able to supply Sutent in an easy to open container.

If you miss a dose of Sutent and it’s been less than 12 hours, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s been longer than 12 hours, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at its usual time. If you’re not sure whether you should take a missed dose, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you need help remembering to take your dose of Sutent on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.

Do not take more Sutent than your doctor prescribes, as this can lead to harmful effects.

What to do in case you take too much Sutent

Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Sutent. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach America’s Poison Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Sutent’s dosage.

Is Sutent’s dosage similar to that of Votrient?

No. Although Sutent and Votrient (pazopanib) are both oral medications, their active ingredients, forms, and uses differ.

Sutent is prescribed to treat GIST, RCC in certain situations, and PNET. Votrient is prescribed to treat advanced RCC and advanced soft tissue sarcoma (cancer that affects the bones and soft tissues).

Both medications are taken once per day, but their dosing schedules and dose in milligrams differ depending on the condition they’re being used to treat.

Your doctor will prescribe the drug and dosage that’s right for you. Talk with them to learn more about how these drugs compare.

How long does it take for Sutent to start working?

Sutent starts to work after your first dose, but because of how it works, you likely won’t feel it working in your body. Your doctor will monitor you during treatment to be sure the drug is effectively treating your condition.

Talk with them if you have other questions about what to expect from your Sutent treatment.

The sections above describe the usual dosages provided by Sutent’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends this drug, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Do not change your dosage of Sutent without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take this drug exactly as prescribed.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage. Examples of questions you may want to ask include:

  • Will a lower dose of Sutent work to treat my condition?
  • How does the dosage of Sutent compare with that of regorafenib (Stivarga)?
  • Will I need a different dosing schedule if I’m taking certain other medications for my condition?

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.