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Azacitidine

Generic Name: azacitidine (ay za SYE ti deen)
Brand Name: Vidaza

Medically reviewed on January 18, 2018

What is azacitidine?

Azacitidine is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Azacitidine is used to treat certain types of bone marrow cancers and blood cell disorders.

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

Important Information

You should not receive azacitidine if you have advanced liver cancer.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive this medicine if you are allergic to azacitidine or mannitol, or if you have:

  • advanced liver cancer.

To make sure azacitidine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Azacitidine can harm an unborn baby. Both men and women using this medicine should use birth control to prevent pregnancy. The use of this medicine by either parent may cause birth defects.

If you are a woman, keep using birth control for at least 6 months after your last dose of azacitidine. If you are a man, keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your last dose. Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using this medicine.

It is not known whether azacitidine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not breast-feed while using azacitidine and for at least 1 week after your last dose.

How is azacitidine given?

Azacitidine is injected under the skin, or as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

azacitidine is usually given for 7 days in a row every 4 weeks for at least 4 treatment cycles. Your treatment schedule may be different. Follow your doctor's instructions.

You may also be given medications to reduce nausea and vomiting.

If azacitidine accidentally gets on your skin, wash the area thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Azacitidine 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 kidney function may also need to be tested. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your azacitidine 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 using azacitidine?

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using azacitidine, or you could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

azacitidine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). 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. 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.

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

Azacitidine 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.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe ongoing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;

  • redness, swelling, warmth, oozing, or other signs of skin infection;

  • stabbing chest pain, wheezing, cough with yellow or green mucus, feeling short of breath;

  • low blood cell counts--fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, swollen gums, mouth sores, skin sores, rapid heart rate, pale skin, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, feeling light-headed;

  • kidney problems--lower back pain, blood in your urine, little or no urinating, swelling in your feet or ankles;

  • liver problems--upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • low potassium--leg cramps, constipation, irregular heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, extreme thirst, increased urination, muscle weakness or limp feeling; or

  • signs of tumor cell breakdown--confusion, tiredness, numbness or tingling, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, fast or slow heart rate, seizure.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever, chills, bruising, or other signs of low blood cell counts;

  • low potassium;

  • nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea;

  • weakness; or

  • redness or other irritation where the injection was given.

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)

Azacitidine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Myelodysplastic Syndrome:

-First Treatment Cycle: 75 mg/m2/day via subcutaneous injection or IV infusion for 7 days; repeat cycles every 4 weeks.
-Subsequent Cycles: After 2 treatment cycles, may increase dose to 100 mg/m2 if no beneficial effect is seen and if no toxicity other than nausea and vomiting has occurred.
-Duration of Therapy: Minimum of 4 to 6 cycles; may continue treatment as long as the patient continues to benefit.

Comments: Premedicate patients for nausea and vomiting.

Use: Treatment of patients with the following French-American-British (FAB) myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) subtypes: refractory anemia (RA) or refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS) if accompanied by neutropenia or thrombocytopenia or requiring transfusions; refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB); refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (RAEB-T); and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMMoL).

What other drugs will affect azacitidine?

Other drugs may interact with azacitidine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

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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