Calquence (acalabrutinib) is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the following cancers in adults:

Here are some fast facts about Calquence:

  • Active ingredient: acalabrutinib
  • Drug class: kinase inhibitor
  • Drug form: oral capsule
  • FDA approval year: 2017

Calquence may be used as a long-term treatment. And like other drugs, it can cause side effects. Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects.

For a general overview of Calquence, including details about its uses, see this article.

* For this use, Calquence received accelerated approval from the FDA. Accelerated approval is based on results of early clinical trials of the drug. The FDA will decide on full approval of Calquence for this use after more trials are done.

Calquence can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Calquence in clinical trials:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Mild side effects can occur with Calquence use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Calquence’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects that have been reported with Calquence include:

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Calquence and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Calquence may cause serious side effects. The list below may not include all the possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Calquence’s prescribing information.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Calquence, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects of Calquence that have been reported and their symptoms include:

  • Serious infections, such as cytomegalovirus infection and pneumonia. Symptoms vary, depending on the type of infection, but they can include:
    • body aches
    • loss of appetite
  • New cancers, such as skin cancer. Symptoms can include:
    • moles that are new or have changed shape or color
    • red, discolored, scaly, or swollen skin
  • Severely low levels of certain blood cells, which may not cause symptoms.* Examples include low levels of:
  • Irregular heart rate or rhythm.†
  • Bleeding.†
  • Allergic reaction.†‡

* The levels can be detected with a blood test.
† For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.
‡ An allergic reaction is possible after taking Calquence. But this side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials.

Calquence may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

How do the side effects of Calquence and Imbruvica compare?

Calquence and Imbruvica (ibrutinib) cause many of the same side effects. This is because both medications belong to the same drug class: kinase inhibitors. The drugs work similarly in the body, which can lead to side effects that are alike.

In a clinical trial that involved people with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Calquence caused fewer cardiovascular side effects than Imbruvica. Before it can be determined whether Calquence causes fewer side effects overall, more research is necessary. Clinical trials need to compare Calquence with Imbruvica for all conditions and side effects.

To learn more about how the side effects of Calquence compare with those of Imbruvica, see this article. You can learn more about Imbruvica by reading this article. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Can Calquence interactions cause any side effects?

It’s possible that Calquence may interact with certain medications, supplements, and foods. These interactions may lead to side effects.

To learn about possible interactions with Calquence, see this article. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of interactions with Calquence.

Does Calquence cause any eye-related side effects?

No, Calquence isn’t known to cause any eye-related side effects. These weren’t reported in clinical trials of the drug.

However, medications that are similar to Calquence may cause eye-related side effects. For example, Imbruvica (ibrutinib) is known to cause eye-related side effects such as blurry vision and dry eyes.

If you have any concerns about your eyes or taking Calquence, talk with your doctor.

Learn more about some of the side effects that Calquence may cause. To find out how often side effects occurred in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Calquence.

Irregular heart rate or rhythm

Taking Calquence may cause atrial flutter (irregular heart rate) or atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm). However, these side effects were rare in clinical trials of the drug.

Heart rate is how often your heart beats per minute. Heart rhythm is the pattern or speed of your heartbeats.

Symptoms of irregular heart rate or rhythm can include:

Your risk of an irregular heart rate or rhythm with Calquence may be increased if you’ve had an irregular heart rate or rhythm in the past. Your risk may also be higher than usual if you have an infection, high blood pressure, or other heart problems. (To learn more, see “Precautions for Calquence” below.)

What you can do

Before taking Calquence, tell your doctor about all your health conditions. They can advise you on whether it’s safe for you to take the drug.

If you have symptoms of an irregular heart rate or rhythm while taking Calquence, talk with your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your condition.

Bleeding

Calquence may cause mild or serious bleeding. Mild bleeding was common in clinical trials of the drug. But in rare cases, Calquence caused severe bleeding that was life threatening.

While you take Calquence, watch for the following symptoms of serious bleeding:

  • bloody stool or urine
  • bleeding that isn’t easily managed
  • bruising more easily than usual

Keep in mind that having a low platelet level is a common side effect of Calquence. (Platelets are a type of blood cell that helps your blood clot.) A low platelet level can cause you to bleed or bruise more easily than usual.

Your risk of bleeding with Calquence may increase if you take certain drugs. An example is the blood thinner drug warfarin (Jantoven).

What you can do

Before taking Calquence, be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you take. They can tell you if any of these drugs increase your risk of bleeding.

Also tell your doctor if you have an upcoming surgery. They may have you stop taking Calquence for 1 week before and after the surgery to lower your risk of bleeding.

If you have mild bleeding while taking Calquence, talk with your doctor. They may order a blood test to see if a low platelet level is the cause.

If you have symptoms of severe bleeding, see your doctor right away. If your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Upper respiratory infection

Calquence may cause an upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold. This was one of the most common side effects in clinical trials of the drug.

Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection include:

What you can do

If you have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, it’s recommended that you stay hydrated and rest.

Your doctor can also suggest ways to ease your symptoms. They can recommend over-the-counter medications that may be helpful. However, before taking any of these medications, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They’ll make sure these drugs are safe to take in combination with Calquence.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Calquence can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect wasn’t reported in clinical trials.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itching
  • flushing
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep taking Calquence. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Calquence. This drug may not be the right treatment for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include:

Liver problems, including hepatitis B. Tell your doctor if you have liver problems before starting Calquence treatment. This includes having had the hepatitis B virus. Calquence can increase the risk of the virus becoming active again. Your doctor may prescribe a lower than usual dosage of Calquence if you have liver problems.

Heart problems, including high blood pressure. Calquence may cause atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation. Your risk of these side effects may be higher than usual if you’ve had an irregular heart rate or rhythm in the past. Your risk may also be increased if you have high blood pressure or other heart problems. Before taking Calquence, tell your doctor if you have heart problems. They can advise you on whether it’s safe for you to take the medication.

Bleeding problems. Before starting Calquence treatment, tell your doctor about any bleeding problems you have. This is because the drug may cause serious bleeding, which could worsen your condition. Your doctor can help determine if it’s safe to take Calquence.

Infections. Calquence may cause atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation. Your risk of these side effects may be higher than usual if you have an infection. Taking Calquence also increases your risk of infection. Before taking Calquence, tell your doctor if you currently have an infection or get infections often. They’ll likely prescribe treatment before you start taking the drug.

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

Planned surgery. Before you start taking Calquence, tell your doctor if you plan to have surgery. Calquence can increase your risk of bleeding. To help lower this risk during surgery, your doctor may pause your Calquence treatment. They’ll advise you on whether it’s safe to stop taking the drug for a time. Keep in mind that you should not stop taking Calquence before speaking with your doctor.

Alcohol use with Calquence

There are no known interactions between alcohol and Calquence. However, your doctor can advise you on whether it’s safe to drink alcohol during your Calquence treatment. If it is safe, they can help determine how much you can consume.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Calquence

Here’s some information about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and Calquence.

Pregnancy. You should not take Calquence during pregnancy. The drug may cause problems with fetal development (commonly known as birth defects). Calquence may also cause labor complications if taken while pregnant.

Because of this risk, you should avoid becoming pregnant for at least 1 week after your last dose of Calquence. Your doctor can recommend other cancer treatments if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

It’s important to use birth control while you take Calquence. Females* should continue using birth control for at least 1 week after their last dose. The manufacturer of Calquence hasn’t provided birth control recommendations for males* taking the drug.

Talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while taking Calquence.

Breastfeeding. It’s recommended that you do not breastfeed while taking Calquence and for at least 2 weeks after your last dose. The drug may pass into breast milk, which could cause side effects in a breastfed child.

If you’re breastfeeding or plan to, talk with your doctor about other treatments and feeding options.

* Sex and gender exist on spectrums. Use of the terms “male” and “female” in this article refers to sex assigned at birth.

Calquence may cause mild or serious side effects. Most of the drug’s side effects should go away with time.

Tell your doctor if you have any symptoms of side effects while taking Calquence. They can help you manage them. Your doctor can also advise you on whether it’s safe to keep taking the drug.

If you’d like to learn more about Calquence, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects of the drug.

Besides talking with your doctor, you can do some research on your own. These articles might help:

Disclaimer: Medical News Today 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.