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Generic Name: valrubicin (val ROO bi sin)
Brand Name: Valstar

Medically reviewed by on Jul 27, 2020 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is Valstar?

Valstar is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Valstar is used to treat bladder cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.

Valstar is usually given after BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Guérin) has been tried without success.

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

Important Information

You should not use Valstar if you have a urinary tract infection, bladder perforation (a hole or tear), overactive bladder, incontinence, or trouble holding in urine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Valstar if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • a urinary tract infection;

  • bladder perforation (a hole or tear); or

  • a history of allergic reaction to cancer medicines such as daunorubicin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, or mitoxantrone.

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

  • overactive bladder, incontinence or leakage;

  • trouble holding a large amount of urine in your bladder; or

  • if you have recently had bladder surgery.

Most people who receive Valstar do not have a complete response to this medication. You may eventually need to have your bladder removed to prevent your cancer from spreading to other parts of your body.

Use effective birth control to avoid pregnancy during your treatment with Valstar, whether you are a man or a woman. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long to prevent pregnancy after your treatment ends.

It is not known whether Valstar will harm an unborn baby if the medicine remains only in the bladder. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is possible that Valstar could leak internally from the bladder and spread to other organs, including the uterus. If this happens during pregnancy, Valstar could harm the unborn baby or cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. This medicine is usually given during pregnancy only if the need for treatment of the mother outweighs the possible risk of harm to the baby.

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

How is Valstar given?

Valstar is injected directly into the bladder using a catheter inserted into the urethra (the tube for passing urine out of your bladder). You will receive this medication in a clinic or hospital setting.

Valstar is usually given once per week for 6 weeks. This medicine is usually mixed into a solution that amounts to about 2.6 ounces (1/3 cup). This entire amount is injected into the bladder and should be held in for 2 hours.

Avoid using the bathroom for at least 2 hours after Valstar is placed in your bladder. Tell your doctor if you have trouble holding in the medicine for the full 2 hours.

If this medicine accidentally gets on your skin, wash it thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Your doctor will need to check your progress with frequent urine tests while you are using Valstar. You may also need to have a bladder biopsy or a bladder exam using a scope.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Valstar.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while using Valstar?

Valstar 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.

Valstar 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:

  • pain or burning when you urinate;

  • blood in your urine or painful urination lasting for longer than 24 hours; or

  • fever, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea.

Common side effects may include:

  • red or pink urine within the first 24 hours after you receive Valstar;

  • increased urge to urinate, urine leakage;

  • increase in night-time urinating; or

  • feeling like your bladder isn't completely empty.

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.

What other drugs will affect Valstar?

Because Valstar is not absorbed into the bloodstream, it is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on this medicine used in the bladder. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

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.