Generic name: Cytarabine (Conventional) [ sye-TARE-a-been-con-VEN-sha-nal ]
Drug class: Antimetabolites
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 1, 2023.
- This medicine may lower the ability of the bone marrow to make blood cells that the body needs. If blood cell counts get very low, this can lead to bleeding problems, infections, or anemia. If you have questions, talk with the doctor.
- This medicine may also cause some other side effects. These side effects include upset stomach or throwing up, diarrhea, stomach pain, mouth sores, and liver problems. Talk with the doctor.
Uses of Cytarabine:
- It is used to treat leukemia.
- It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Cytarabine?
- If you have an allergy to cytarabine or any other part of cytarabine (conventional).
- If you are allergic to cytarabine (conventional); any part of cytarabine (conventional); or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
- If you are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed.
This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take cytarabine (conventional) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take Cytarabine?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take cytarabine (conventional). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- You may have more of a chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu. Some infections have been very bad and even deadly.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection like fever, chills, flu-like signs, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or a wound that will not heal.
- You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
- Diarrhea, throwing up, upset stomach, and feeling less hungry are common with cytarabine (conventional). If these happen, talk with your doctor about ways to lower these side effects. Call your doctor right away if any of these effects bother you, do not get better, or get very bad.
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- Some products have benzyl alcohol. Do not give a product that has benzyl alcohol in it to a newborn or infant. Talk with the doctor to see if this product has benzyl alcohol in it.
- Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use of some vaccines with cytarabine (conventional) may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
- Patients with cancer who take cytarabine (conventional) may be at a greater risk of getting a severe health problem called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS).This may lead to death. Call your doctor right away if you have a fast or abnormal heartbeat; any passing out; trouble passing urine; muscle weakness or cramps; upset stomach, throwing up, diarrhea, or not able to eat; or feel sluggish.
- This medicine may cause harm to an unborn baby. Women must use birth control while taking cytarabine (conventional). If you get pregnant, call your doctor right away.
How is this medicine (Cytarabine) best taken?
Use cytarabine (conventional) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
- It is given as a shot into a vein, the fatty part of the skin, or into the spine.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Call your doctor to find out what to do.
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of bleeding like throwing up or coughing up blood; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; abnormal vaginal bleeding; bruises without a cause or that get bigger; or bleeding you cannot stop.
- Signs of lung or breathing problems like shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, cough, or fever.
- Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- Signs of bowel problems like black, tarry, or bloody stools; fever; mucus in the stools; throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; or very bad stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
- Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
- Signs of nervous system problems like change in mood or actions, feeling confused, fever, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, stiff neck, bright lights bother your eyes, or very bad muscle weakness.
- Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, or swelling in the arms or legs.
- Feeling very tired or weak.
- Feeling very sleepy.
- Chest pain.
- Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
- Pain and irritation where cytarabine (conventional) goes into the body.
What are some other side effects of Cytarabine?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Hair loss.
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Muscle pain.
- Bone pain.
- Stomach pain.
- Mouth irritation or mouth sores.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out Cytarabine?
- If you need to store cytarabine (conventional) at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.
Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about cytarabine (conventional), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
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