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Tretinoin

Generic Name: tretinoin (TRET i noin)
Brand Name: Vesanoid

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Aug 6, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is tretinoin?

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

Tretinoin is used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (a type of blood cancer).

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

Important Information

Do not use if you are pregnant. You may need to have a pregnancy test every month during treatment.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use tretinoin if you are allergic to tretinoin or to other retinoids (such as Accutane, Retin-A, Renova).

This medicine can cause birth defects, miscarriage, premature birth, or death of a baby. Do not use tretinoin if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you miss a period or become pregnant during treatment. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment, and every month while taking tretinoin.

Tretinoin can make certain birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about the best method of birth control to prevent pregnancy while taking tretinoin. You must use effective birth control while you are taking tretinoin unless you have had a hysterectomy and no longer have a uterus. Use birth control even if you have been infertile (unable to have children) in the past, or if you have gone through menopause.

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

It is not known whether tretinoin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How should I use tretinoin?

Your doctor will perform a blood test to make sure you have the type of leukemia this medicine is used to treat.

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Take each dose with a full glass of water.

You may need to continue taking tretinoin for up to 90 days. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Store tretinoin at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include headache, dizziness, weakness, flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling) in your face, stomach pain, and dry or cracked lips.

What should I avoid while using tretinoin?

Do not use vitamin A supplements or multivitamins that contain vitamin A while you are taking tretinoin.

tretinoin may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

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.

Tretinoin 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.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • mouth and throat ulcers, red or swollen gums, burning mouth pain, trouble swallowing;

  • increased pressure inside the skull--severe headaches, ringing in your ears, dizziness, nausea, vision problems, pain behind your eyes;

  • kidney problems--little or no urinating, weight gain, swelling in your feet or ankles;

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

  • lung problems--pain when you breathe, rapid heart rate, feeling short of breath (especially when lying down);

  • signs of a blood clot--sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), problems with speech or balance, chest pain, coughing up blood, pain or warmth in one or both legs;

  • signs of infection--fever, chills, flu symptoms, easy bruising or bleeding, new or worsening cough, stabbing chest pain, wheezing, rapid and shallow breathing; or

  • signs of stomach bleeding--bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever, weakness, tiredness;

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • bone pain;

  • rash, itching, dry skin, increased sweating;

  • hair loss or skin changes;

  • dry mouth, nose, or throat;

  • headache; or

  • vision changes.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Tretinoin dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia:

45 mg/m2/day administered as two evenly divided doses until complete remission is documented. Therapy should be discontinued 30 days after achievement of complete remission or after 90 days of treatment, whichever comes first.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia:

There are limited clinical data on the pediatric use of tretinoin. The safety and efficacy of tretinoin in patients < 1 year has not been established. Of 15 pediatric patients (1 to 16 years) treated with tretinoin the incidence of complete remission was 67%. Dose reduction may be considered for pediatric patients experiencing serious and/or intolerable toxicity, however, the safety and efficacy of doses less than 45 mg/m2/day have not been evaluated in the pediatric population.

45 mg/m2/day administered as two evenly divided doses until complete remission is documented. Therapy should be discontinued 30 days after achievement of complete remission or after 90 days of treatment, whichever comes first.

What other drugs will affect tretinoin?

Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with tretinoin, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with tretinoin, 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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