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Thioguanine

Generic Name: thioguanine (THYE oh GWA neen)
Brand Name: Tabloid

Medically reviewed on August 6, 2018

What is thioguanine?

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

Thioguanine is used to treat certain types of leukemia. Thioguanine is sometimes given with other cancer medications.

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

Important Information

You should not use thioguanine if you have ever used thioguanine or mercaptopurine and they were not effective in treating your condition.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use thioguanine if you are allergic to it, or if you have ever used thioguanine or mercaptopurine and they were not effective in treating your condition.

To make sure thioguanine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease; or

  • any type of viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.

Do not use thioguanine 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 thioguanine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while taking thioguanine.

How should I take thioguanine?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take thioguanine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Thioguanine 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 and liver function may also need to be checked. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

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 thioguanine.

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 thioguanine?

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

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using thioguanine. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

thioguanine 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.

Thioguanine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using thioguanine and call your doctor at once if you have:

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

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;

  • severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;

  • low red blood cells (anemia)--pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating; or

  • signs of infection--fever, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, pain when swallowing, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, cough, trouble breathing.

Common side effects may include:

  • a weak immune system (infections, bleeding, bruising);

  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite; or

  • blisters or ulcers in your mouth.

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)

Thioguanine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Acute Nonlymphocytic Leukemia:

Single Agent Chemotherapy: Usual Initial dose: 2 mg/kg/day orally.
If, after 4 weeks on this dosage, there is no clinical improvement and no leukocyte or platelet depression, the dosage may be cautiously increased to 3 mg/kg per day. The total daily dose may be given at one time.

As a part of combination therapy for induction of remission in patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia: 75 to 200 mg/m2/day in 1 to 2 divided doses for 5 to 7 days or until remission is attained.

Usual Geriatric Dose for Acute Nonlymphocytic Leukemia:

Single Agent Chemotherapy: Usual Initial dose: 2 mg/kg/day orally.
If, after 4 weeks on this dosage, there is no clinical improvement and no leukocyte or platelet depression, the dosage may be cautiously increased to 3 mg/kg per day. The total daily dose may be given at one time.

As a part of combination therapy for induction of remission in patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia: 75 to 200 mg/m2/day in 1 to 2 divided doses for 5 to 7 days or until remission is attained.

Because clinical studies of thioguanine did not include sufficient numbers of subjects 65 years of age or over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects, dose selection for elderly patients should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acute Nonlymphocytic Leukemia:

<3 years: As a part of combination drug therapy for Acute Nonlymphocytic Leukemia: 3.3 mg/kg/day in divided doses twice a day for 4 days.

>1 year: As a part of combination therapy for induction of remission in patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia: 75 to 200 mg/m2/day in 1 to 2 divided doses for 5 to 7 days or until remission is attained.

Single Agent Chemotherapy: Usual Initial dose: 2 mg/kg/day orally.
If, after 4 weeks on this dosage, there is no clinical improvement and no leukocyte or platelet depression, the dosage may be cautiously increased to 3 mg/kg per day. The total daily dose may be given at one time.

What other drugs will affect thioguanine?

Other drugs may interact with thioguanine, 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.

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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