Generic Name: decitabine (de SIT a been)
Brand Name: Dacogen
What is decitabine?
Decitabine is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Decitabine is used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes (certain types of blood or bone marrow cancer).
Decitabine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about decitabine?
Decitabine 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 health care provider before receiving decitabine?
To make sure you can safely take decitabine, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
kidney disease; or
Do not use decitabine if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
If a man fathers a child while using this medication, the baby may have birth defects. Use a condom to prevent pregnancy during your treatment. Continue using condoms for at least 2 months after you stop receiving decitabine.
It is not known whether decitabine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving decitabine.
How is decitabine given?
Decitabine is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
In most cases, a decitabine injection is given every 8 hours for 3 days. This 3-day treatment is usually repeated every 6 weeks. You will most likely receive at least 4 of these treatments.
You may be given other medications to prevent nausea or vomiting while you are receiving decitabine.
Decitabine 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. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be checked.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your decitabine injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Since decitabine is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.
What should I avoid while receiving decitabine?
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.
This medicine 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.
Decitabine 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:
fever, chills, body aches, cough, sore throat, flu symptoms;
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
pale skin, feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips; or
stabbing chest pain, wheezing, feeling short of breath, cough with yellow or green mucus;
swelling, pain, tenderness, or redness anywhere on your body; or
electrolyte imbalance (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, jerking muscle movements, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling).
Common side effects may include:
headache, dizziness, drowsiness;
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation;
cough, dry mouth;
joint pain; or
sleep problems (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)
Decitabine dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Myelodysplastic Syndrome:
Treatment Regimen - Option 1
First Treatment Cycle: 15 mg/m2 administered by continuous intravenous infusion over 3 hours repeated every 8 hours for 3 days. Patients may be premedicated with standard antiemetic therapy.
Subsequent Treatment Cycles: The above cycle should be repeated every 6 weeks. It is recommended that patients be treated for a minimum of 4 cycles; however, a complete or partial response may take longer than 4 cycles. Treatment may be continued as long as the patient continues to benefit.
If hematologic recovery (absolute neutrophil count (ANC) greater than or equal to 1000/microliter and platelets greater than or equal to 50,000/microliter) from a previous treatment cycle requires more than 6 weeks, then the next cycle of decitabine therapy should be delayed and dosing temporarily reduced by following this algorithm: Recovery requiring more than 6, but less than 8 weeks - decitabine dosing to be delayed for up to 2 weeks and the dose temporarily reduced to 11 mg/m2 every 8 hours (33 mg/m2/day, 99 mg/m2/cycle) upon restarting therapy. Recovery requiring more than 8, but less than 10 weeks - Patient should be assessed for disease progression (by bone marrow aspirates); in the absence of progression, the decitabine dose should be delayed up to 2 more weeks and the dose reduced to 11 mg/m2 every 8 hours (33 mg/m2/day, 99 mg/m2/cycle) upon restarting therapy, then maintained or increased in subsequent cycles as clinically indicated.
Treatment Regimen - Option 2
20 mg/m2 by continuous intravenous infusion over 1 hour repeated daily for 5 days. This cycle should be repeated every 4 weeks. Patients may be premedicated with standard antiemetic therapy.
If myelosuppression is present, subsequent treatment cycles of decitabine should be delayed until there is hematologic recovery (ANC greater than or equal to 1,000/mcL platelets greater than or equal to 50,000/mcL ).
What other drugs will affect decitabine?
Other drugs may interact with decitabine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
More about decitabine
- Other brands: Dacogen
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about decitabine.
- 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: 3.03.
Date modified: January 10, 2017
Last reviewed: September 29, 2015