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.

Prescription Medications


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:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Headache

Special Considerations

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.