Generic Name: altretamine (al TRET a meen)
Brand Name: Hexalen
What is altretamine?
Altretamine is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Altretamine is used to ease the symptoms of ovarian cancer. This medication will not treat the cancer itself.
Altretamine is usually given after other cancer medicines have been tried without success.
Altretamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about altretamine?
You should not use altretamine if you have severe nerve problems or severe bone marrow suppression.
Altretamine can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often.
Altretamine can affect your nervous system. Call your doctor at once if you have severe dizziness, fainting, seizure, or severe numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking altretamine?
You should not use altretamine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
severe nerve problems; or
severe bone marrow suppression.
To make sure altretamine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
bone marrow problems;
any problems with your nervous system (brain or nerves); or
if you have recently used an MAO inhibitor--isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
Do not use altretamine if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
It is not known whether altretamine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
How should I take altretamine?
Altretamine is usually taken 4 times per day. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Altretamine is given in a 28-day treatment cycle, and you may only need to take the medicine during the first 2 or 3 weeks of each cycle. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with altretamine.
Take altretamine after meals and at bedtime, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Altretamine can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.
Your nerve and muscle function may also need to be checked.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose of altretamine.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking altretamine?
This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.
Altretamine side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using altretamine and call your doctor at once if you have:
severe numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet;
severe or continuous vomiting;
fever, chills, flu symptoms, mouth sores, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
severe dizziness or spinning sensation;
seizure (convulsions); or
upper stomach pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Common side effects may include:
mild nausea or vomiting;
mild numbness or tingling;
loss of appetite;
mood changes, mild dizziness; or
skin rash, itching, hair loss.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Altretamine dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Ovarian Cancer:
260 mg/m2/day administered either for 14 or 21 consecutive days in a 28 day cycle. The total daily dose should be given as 4 divided oral doses after meals and at bedtime.
Altretamine should be temporarily discontinued (for 14 days or longer) and subsequently restarted at 200 mg/m2/day for any of the following situations:
Gastrointestinal intolerance unresponsive to symptomatic measures;
White blood count <2000/mm 3 or granulocyte count <1000/mm 3;
Platelet count <75,000/mm 3;
If neurologic symptoms fail to stabilize on the reduced dose schedule, altretamine should be discontinued indefinitely.
What other drugs will affect altretamine?
Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with altretamine, especially:
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with altretamine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about altretamine
- Other brands: Hexalen
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about altretamine.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
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