Medications for Leukemia
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The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
A variety of chemotherapy drugs may be used to treat your leukemia. They are designed to prevent replication of the abnormal cells and to reduce their numbers. Chemotherapy drugs can also produce side effects such as anemia, diarrhea, and low white cell counts that may leave you susceptible to infection. The number of chemotherapy drugs, most often given intravenously, is to great to list individually. You should discuss with your doctor what drugs you are receiving and what the side effects are likely to be.
Filgrastim (Neupogen) and Pegfilgrastim (Neulasta)
Your physician my prescribe this drug to help stimulate the production of normal white blood cells. This will help reduce your risk of infection and may help you tolerate larger doses of chemotherapy as a result
]]>Epoetin Alpha]]> (Procrit and Epogen)
This drug is a duplicate of a hormone that naturally stimulates the production of red cells by the bone marrow. Your physician may prescribe it to improve your red cell counts, reducing anemia and the symptoms of fatigue that it produces.
]]>Imatinib Mesylate]]> (Gleevec)
Imatinib mesylate is a new drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. It reduces the number of cancer cells in the blood and bone marrow. It is taken by mouth.
Possible side effects include:
- Muscle cramps
Infertility and premature menopause may occur with drugs ordered to treat leukemia. If fertility is a concern, talk to your doctor about storing sperm or eggs before starting therapy.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
- Take them as directed—not more, not less, not at a different time.
- Do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.
- Don’t share them with anyone else.
- Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your doctor.
- If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.
- Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp .
Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.
US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ .
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/hm_lls .
National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/ .
Last reviewed June 2008 by ]]>Igor Puzanov, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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