If you have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), your doctor might suggest Zykadia as a treatment option for you.

Zykadia is a prescription medication used in adults with NSCLC that’s anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive (ALK+) and metastatic (the cancer has spread to other parts of your body).

ceritinib is the active ingredient in Zykadia. An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.

For more information about Zykadia, including details about its uses, see this in-depth article.

Mild to serious side effects can be caused by the drug. Continue reading to learn more.

Some people may experience side effects during their treatment. Some of the reported side effects of Zykadia are listed.

Digestive side effects are common with this drug. Taking your dose with food may lower your risk of side effects such as There is a lot of There is a lot of diarrhea.. and nausea.

There are sections about the possible side effects of this drug.

Mild side effects can be caused by the medication.

Mild side effects have been reported with the drug.

These side effects should be temporary. Some may be easy to manage. If you have any symptoms that bother you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Unless your doctor recommends it, you should not stop using it.

Zykadia may cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. See the Zykadia prescribing information for details.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Zykadia, visit MedWatch.

It is not common, but treatment with zykadia may cause serious side effects.

There have been serious side effects reported with the drug.

If you develop serious side effects while taking the drug, call your doctor. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you have a medical emergency, immediately call the emergency number.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible after using Zykadia. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Some of the side effects of Zykadia can be found here.

Abnormal heart rhythm

Zykadia can cause abnormal heart rhythm in some people. In studies, Zykadia caused the following types of abnormal heart rhythm:

  • Long QT syndrome. With long QT syndrome, part of your heart rhythm is lengthened. This condition can be severe or even life threatening. Long QT syndrome wasn’t fatal in studies of Zykadia, but in rare cases, people stopped taking the drug because of this side effect.
  • Bradycardia (slow heart rate). Bradycardia was rare in studies, and no one stopped taking Zykadia because of this side effect.

An abnormal heart rhythm is not a cause of symptoms. But possible symptoms include:

What might help

Because of the risk for abnormal heart rhythms, doctors likely won’t prescribe Zykadia if you have certain risk factors. These include taking other medications that can cause slow heart rate or if you already have long QT syndrome.

Your doctor may prescribe Zykadia but may keep an eye on you during treatment. If you:

If you notice a heart rhythm abnormality while taking the drug, call your doctor. They will want to evaluate your symptoms in person. If you have symptoms that go away, they may have you temporarily stop taking Zykadia, then restart at a lower dose. They may want you to stop taking Zykadia and switch to a different treatment.

High blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes

Treatment with Zykadia can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). This wasn’t common in the drug’s studies, but it can occur. Hyperglycemia can cause type 2 diabetes, but it’s not clear whether anyone taking Zykadia in studies was diagnosed with diabetes.

Hyperglycemia can have symptoms.

  • It feels more thirsty or hungry than usual.
  • “It’s more frequent than usual.”
  • I feel more tired than usual.
  • There is a throbbing head.
  • Problems concentrating

What might help

Your doctor will test your blood sugar levels before prescribing Zykadia for you. They’ll also check your blood sugar at certain points during your treatment. If your levels are high, they may prescribe a medication to lower them, such as Glumetza (metformin). They’ll also likely decrease your Zykadia dose or have you stop taking Zykadia and switch to a different treatment.


In rare cases, Zykadia can cause pancreatitis (swelling in the pancreas).

There are symptoms of pancreatitis.

  • It may spread to your back.
  • There is a high degree of fever.
  • It is a tender or swollen belly.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

What might help

You will have a blood test to check your levels of the enzyme in your pancreas. You will have these tests during your treatment. If your doctor thinks you have high levels of youridases, he will stop you from taking zykadia. They will likely have you start taking a lower dose of Zykadia.

If you notice symptoms of pancreatitis, call your doctor. This condition can be treated in a hospital. You will feel better if you receive early treatment.

If you develop pancreatitis after taking the drug, your doctor will stop treatment until you have your symptoms treated. They will determine if it is safe for you to keep taking the drug.

Liver damage

In rare cases, Zykadia may cause liver damage. This often doesn’t cause symptoms unless it’s severe. Mild or moderate liver damage is often only noticed on blood tests. (See “What might help” below for more information on these tests.) But you may have symptoms in some cases, including:

  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
  • There is pain in the upper part of your body.
  • Dark urine.
  • It is itchy.

What might help

During your Zykadia treatment, your doctor will order blood tests at least once per month to check your liver function. These tests check the levels of your liver enzymes (proteins). If your levels are high, your doctor may temporarily stop your Zykadia treatment, then have you restart it at a lower dose. In some cases, they may have you permanently stop taking Zykadia and switch to a different treatment.

If you have questions about your treatment, you should talk to your doctor.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Zykadia can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies.

Mild to serious symptoms can be present.

  • There is a skin rash.
  • It is itchy.
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • “It’s usually under your skin, but it can be anywhere.”
  • It can be hard to breathe if you have swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat.

What might help

If you have a mild rash, call your doctor. They may suggest a treatment to help you. Examples include:

  • an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • A product that is applied to the skin.

If your doctor confirms that you have an allergic reaction to Zykadia, they will decide if you should continue using it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or breathing problems, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you have an allergic reaction to Zykadia, they may want you to switch to another treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

Take notes on any side effects you are having during your treatment. You can share this information with your doctor. This is helpful when you are starting to use a combination of treatments.

Side effect notes can include things.

  • When you had the side effect, what dose of the drug was taking?
  • How soon did you experience the side effect?
  • What are your symptoms?
  • How did it affect your daily activities?
  • What other drugs were you taking?
  • Other information is important to you.

Sharing your notes with your doctor will help them learn more about how the drug affects you. If needed, they can use this information to adjust your treatment plan.

If you have a medical condition that affects your health, zykadia may not be right for you. Before starting Zykadia, you should talk to your doctor about your health history. The list has factors to consider.

Liver problems. In rare cases, Zykadia causes liver damage. If you already have liver problems, you may have a higher risk of this side effect. Talk with your doctor about whether Zykadia is safe for you.

Diabetes. Zykadia can raise your blood sugar and could cause mild hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). In rare cases, this side effect can be serious. If you already have diabetes, taking Zykadia may worsen your condition. If your doctor decides to prescribe Zykadia for you, they may have you monitor your blood sugar closely during treatment.

Heart problems, including long QT syndrome. Zykadia can affect your heart rhythm. Although this side effect is rare, you may have a higher risk if you have existing heart problems (such as long QT syndrome). Your doctor can determine whether it’s safe for you to take Zykadia.

Pancreatitis. In rare cases, Zykadia can cause pancreatitis. It’s not known if you have a higher risk if you’ve had pancreatitis in the past. If you’ve had pancreatitis before, your doctor can determine whether Zykadia is safe for you.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Zykadia or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Zykadia. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.

Alcohol use and Zykadia

It is safe to drink alcohol while taking zykadia.

But it’s important to note that Zykadia can cause liver damage in rare cases. Alcohol can also damage your liver. So drinking alcohol during Zykadia treatment may raise your risk of liver damage.

If you drink alcohol, you should talk to your doctor about how much you can drink during your treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Zykadia

It is not safe to take zykadia while pregnant. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

If you can become pregnant, you should use birth control while taking Zykadia and for at least 6 months after your last dose. Males* with a partner who can become pregnant should use birth control while taking Zykadia and for 3 months after their last dose.

If you become pregnant while taking the drug, call your doctor.

You should not feed your baby while taking the last dose of Zykadia. Talk to your doctor about your options if you are planning to breastfeeding.

* In this article, we use the term “male” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

“Some people can have side effects from zykadia. The drug’s side effects should be mild.”

“Talk to your doctor before you start taking it. Ask questions that will help you understand the drug’s effects. Some examples to start.”

  • Do any of the medications I take affect my risk of side effects?
  • Is there a lower dose I can try if I have side effects from taking Zykadia?
  • How do the side effects of Zykadia compare to other drugs that could help me?


Is there anything I should avoid while taking zykadia?



Yes, you should avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking Zykadia. Consuming grapefruit can cause Zykadia levels to build up in your body. This can raise your risk of side effects, including serious side effects. It could also make side effects more severe.

If you have questions, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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.