Generic Name: pentostatin (PEN toe stah tin)
Brand Name: Nipent
What is pentostatin?
Pentostatin is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Pentostatin is used to treat hairy cell leukemia (a type of blood cancer).
Pentostatin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about pentostatin?
Pentostatin can cause harmful side effects on your kidneys, liver, lungs, or central nervous system. Call your doctor at once if you have symptoms such as: swelling, rapid weight gain, little or no urinating, pink or red urine, severe shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, cough, vision problems, numbness, tingling, or burning pain.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving pentostatin?
You should not use pentostatin if you are allergic to it.
To make sure pentostatin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
any type of infection (including pneumonia); or
weak immune system (caused by disease or by using certain medicines).
Do not use pentostatin if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to avoid pregnancy during your treatment with pentostatin. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long to prevent pregnancy after your treatment ends.
It is not known whether pentostatin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
How is pentostatin given?
Your doctor will perform blood tests to make sure you do not have conditions that would prevent you from safely receiving pentostatin.
Pentostatin is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
You may need frequent medical tests at your doctor's office to be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests. You may also need to have a bone marrow biopsy.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your pentostatin 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 receiving pentostatin?
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.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using pentostatin. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.
Pentostatin 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, swollen glands, cold or flu symptoms, blisters or ulcers in your mouth, red or swollen gums, trouble swallowing;
pale skin, weakness, easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
swelling, rapid weight gain, little or no urinating, pain in your side or lower back;
red or pink urine;
skin sores, severe skin rash;
anxiety, sweating, severe shortness of breath, wheezing, gasping for breath, chest pain, fast or uneven heart rate;
cough with foamy mucus, cough with yellow or green mucus;
eye pain, vision problems; or
numbness, tingling, or burning pain.
Common side effects may include:
loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting;
joint or muscle pain;
headache, dizziness, drowsiness, depressed mood; 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)
Pentostatin dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Hairy Cell Leukemia:
For use as single agent treatment for both untreated and alpha interferon refractory hairy cell leukemia patients with active disease (as defined by clinically significant anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, or disease related symptoms):
4 mg/m2 every other week. (Higher doses are not recommended.)
What other drugs will affect pentostatin?
Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with pentostatin, especially:
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with pentostatin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about pentostatin
- Other brands: Nipent
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about pentostatin.
- 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: 2.03.
Date modified: January 10, 2017
Last reviewed: August 04, 2015