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Altretamine

Generic Name: altretamine (al TRET a meen)
Brand Name: Hexalen

Medically reviewed on August 4, 2017.

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.

Important Information

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.

Before taking this medicine

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:

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 orally given in 4 divided doses after meals and at bedtime, either for 14 or 21 consecutive days in a 28-day cycle.

Comments: There is no pharmacokinetic information supporting this dosing regimen and the effect of food on bioavailability and pharmacokinetics has not been evaluated.

Use: Indicated as a single agent in the palliative treatment of patients with persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer following first-line therapy with a cisplatin and/or alkylating agent-based combination.

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:

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.

Further information

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.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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