Medically reviewed on September 3, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
- Powder for Suspension
Therapeutic Class: Antineoplastic Agent
Uses For azacitidine
Azacitidine injection is used to treat patients with French-American-British (FAB) myelodysplastic syndrome subtypes, including refractory anemia or chronic leukemia.
Azacitidine belongs to the group of medicines called metabolites. It interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by azacitidine, other effects will also occur. Some of these may be serious and must be reported to your doctor. Some effects may not occur for months or years after the medicine is used.
Azacitidine is to be given only by or under the direct supervision of your doctor.
Before Using azacitidine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For azacitidine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to azacitidine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of azacitidine injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of azacitidine injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have kidney problems, which may require caution in patients receiving azacitidine injection.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of azacitidine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Allergy to mannitol or
- Cancerous liver tumors—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
- Anemia or
- Liver disease or
- Neutropenia (low white blood cells) or
- Thrombocytopenia (low number of platelets)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
Proper Use of azacitidine
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you azacitidine. You may also be taught how to give your medicine at home. Azacitidine is given as a shot under your skin or into a vein.
Azacitidine is given once a day, for 7 days (1 treatment cycle). Then, you may receive azacitidine every 4 weeks. You may also receive medicines to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
Cancer medicines can cause nausea or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
Azacitidine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.
Precautions While Using azacitidine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that azacitidine is working properly. Blood tests will be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Your unborn baby could be harmed if you use azacitidine while you are pregnant. Women receiving azacitidine injection should use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant There is also a potential for azacitidine to cause birth defects if the father is using it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. If a pregnancy occurs while you are receiving azacitidine, tell your doctor right away.
Azacitidine can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
- If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
- Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising black, tarry stools, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
- Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
- Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
- Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
- Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
Azacitidine may cause a serious type of reaction called tumor lysis syndrome. Your doctor may give you a medicine to help prevent this. Call your doctor right away if you have a decrease or change in urine amount, joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, lower back, side, or stomach pain, a rapid weight gain, swelling of the feet or lower legs, or unusual tiredness or weakness.
Azacitidine Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Black, tarry stools
- bladder pain
- bleeding gums
- blood in the urine or stools
- cloudy urine
- body aches or pain
- burning or stinging of the skin
- chest pain
- difficult breathing
- difficulty swallowing
- ear congestion
- fast heartbeat
- frequent urge to urinate
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- loss of voice
- lower back or side pain
- muscle aches
- nasal congestion
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
- painful or difficult urination
- pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth on the skin
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips or tongue
- rapid heartbeat
- runny nose
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth
- stuffy nose
- swollen glands
- tender, swollen glands in the neck
- tightness in the chest
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- voice changes
- Change in consciousness
- decreased urine
- dry mouth
- increased thirst
- irregular heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- mood changes
- muscle pain or cramps
- numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
- loss of consciousness
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Acid or sour stomach
- appetite decreased
- bleeding after defecation
- bloody nose
- blurred vision
- bumps on the skin
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- burning while urinating
- difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
- difficulty with moving
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- dry skin
- feeling of discomfort or illness
- feeling of sluggishness
- feeling sad or empty
- feeling unusually cold
- full or bloated feeling or pressure in the stomach
- heart murmur
- inflamed tissue from infection at the injection site
- injection site bruising
- itching at injection site
- joint pain
- lack of appetite
- large, flat, blue or purplish patches in the skin
- loss of interest or pleasure
- mouth hemorrhage
- muscle stiffness
- night sweats
- pain in the joints
- postnasal drip
- post procedural hemorrhage
- redness of the skin
- small clicking, bubbling, or rattling sounds in the lung when listening with a stethoscope
- small lumps under the skin
- small red or purple spots in the mouth
- soreness or discomfort to touch or pressure on the stomach
- stomach discomfort upset or pain
- swelling of abdominal or stomach area
- swelling of the hands, ankles, feet, or lower legs
- swelling or inflammation of the mouth
- swelling with pits or depressions visible on the skin
- swollen joints
- tongue ulceration
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- uncomfortable swelling around the anus
- unusual drowsiness
- unusually warm skin
- upper abdominal or stomach pain
- weight loss
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 2018 Truven Health Analytics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
More about azacitidine
- Azacitidine Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 15 Reviews
- Drug class: miscellaneous antineoplastics
Other brands: Vidaza