Brand Name(s):

  • Nipent®

Other Name(s):

  • Deoxycoformycin


Pentostatin can cause kidney, liver, lung, and neurological toxicity. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: weakness, change in vision or hearing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, tingling of the hands or feet, mental confusion, or loss of coordination. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to pentostatin.

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Your doctor has ordered the drug pentostatin to help treat your illness. The drug can be given by injection into a vein.

This medication is used to treat:

  • hairy cell leukemia
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Pentostatin is a type of antibiotic that is only used for chemotherapy; it slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in your body. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

Pentostatin also is used to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia, mycosis fungoides, prolymphocytic leukemia (B-cell and T-cell origin), T-cell leukemia, and lymphoma. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before taking pentostatin,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to pentostatin or any other drugs.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim), aspirin, fludarabine (Fludara), vidarabine (Ara-A, Vira-A), and vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease.
  • you should know that pentostatin may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should tell their doctors before they begin taking this drug. You should not plan to have children while receiving chemotherapy or for a while after treatments. (Talk to your doctor for further details.) Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Pentostatin may harm the fetus.
  • do not have any vaccinations (e.g., measles or flu shots) without talking to your doctor.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

Side effects from pentostatin are common and include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • abdominal pain
  • gas
  • gum and teeth changes
  • headache

Tell your doctor if either of these symptoms is severe or lasts for several hours:

  • tiredness or fatigue
  • mouth blistering

If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section call your doctor immediately:

  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • fever
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches
  • rash
  • pain (especially chest pain or discomfort)
  • redness, swelling, or pain at the site of injection
  • anxiety or depression
  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • eye or ear pain

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].

What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

  • The most common side effect of pentostatin is a decrease in the number of blood cells. Your doctor may order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by the drug.

AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.