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Cytosar-U

Generic Name: cytarabine (sye TAR a been)
Brand Name: Cytosar-U, Tarabine PFS

What is Cytosar-U (cytarabine)?

Cytarabine is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Cytarabine is used to treat certain types of leukemia (blood cancers). Cytarabine is also used to treat leukemia associated with meningitis.

Cytarabine will not treat an active meningitis infection that has already developed in the body.

Cytarabine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Cytosar-U (cytarabine)?

Cytarabine is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Cytarabine can cause serious side effects on your brain or central nervous system that may not be reversible. Cytarabine is usually given together with a steroid medication to help lessen these side effects. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.

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Cytarabine can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. You may get an infection or bleed more easily. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches).

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving Cytosar-U (cytarabine)?

Cytarabine can cause serious side effects on your brain or central nervous system that may not be reversible. Cytarabine is usually given together with a steroid medication to help lessen these side effects. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to cytarabine.

To make sure you can safely receive cytarabine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or

  • a history of head injury or brain tumor.

FDA pregnancy category D. Do not receive cytarabine 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 cytarabine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving cytarabine.

How is cytarabine given?

Cytarabine is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein, under the skin, or into the space around the spinal cord. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.

Cytarabine is usually given once every 2 to 4 weeks. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when cytarabine is injected.

After receiving an injection in the space around your spinal cord, you will need to lie flat for at least 1 hour. You will be watched closely during this time to make sure you do not have serious side effects.

Cytarabine can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood may need to be tested often.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your cytarabine injection.

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 receiving Cytosar-U (cytarabine)?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

This medicine can pass into body fluids (including urine, feces, vomit, semen, vaginal fluid). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Patients and caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up 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.

Body fluids should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Use condoms during sexual activity to avoid exposure to body fluids.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using cytarabine. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

Cytosar-U (cytarabine) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers at once if you have:

  • fever with nausea, vomiting, and headache;

  • problems with your vision or hearing;

  • loss of movement in any part of your body;

  • loss of bowel or bladder control;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;

  • pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;

  • confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior;

  • trouble standing or walking,

  • seizure (convulsions);

  • pain or burning when you urinate;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out; OR

  • feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, or hot and dry skin.

Common side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, memory problems;

  • constipation, diarrhea, mild nausea;

  • back pain, pain in your arms or legs;

  • headache; or

  • trouble sleeping (insomnia).

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)

What other drugs will affect Cytosar-U (cytarabine)?

Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with cytarabine, especially:

  • digoxin, digitalis.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with cytarabine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about cytarabine.
  • 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.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.02. Revision Date: 2013-07-01, 2:30:32 PM.

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