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Cytarabine liposomal Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of cytarabine liposomal include: fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, asthenia, drowsiness, and pain. Other side effects include: thrombocytopenia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to cytarabine liposomal: intrathecal suspension

Along with its needed effects, cytarabine liposomal may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking cytarabine liposomal:

More common
  • Back pain
  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • neck pain or rigidity
  • sleepiness
  • vomiting
  • weakness
Less common
  • Black, tarry stools
  • blood in urine or stools
  • chills
  • cough or hoarseness
  • lower back or side pain
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • sore throat
  • swelling of fingers, hands, arms, lower legs, or feet
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Fast or irregular breathing
  • puffiness or swelling around the face
  • shortness of breath
  • sudden, severe decrease in blood pressure
  • unusual tiredness

Some side effects of cytarabine liposomal may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common
  • Constipation
  • urinary incontinence

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to cytarabine liposomal: intrathecal suspension

Nervous system

Chemical arachnoiditis is a syndrome which is a common adverse event associated with the use of cytarabine liposomal. This syndrome includes headache, fever, and back pain. The incidence and severity of chemical arachnoiditis may be reduced by coadministration with dexamethasone.

Hydrocephalus may have been precipitated by arachnoiditis.

Infectious meningitis may be associated with intrathecal drug administration.[Ref]

Nervous system side effects including headache (56%), arachnoiditis (42%) confusion (up to 33%) abnormal gait (up to 23%), convulsions (20%), dizziness (18%), memory impairment (14%), somnolence (12%), hypoesthesia (10%), tremor (9%), peripheral neuropathy (4%), syncope (3%), neuropathy (3%), peripheral sensory neuropathy (3%), and abnormal reflexes (3%) have been reported. Hydrocephalus, hemiplegia, visual disturbances (including blindness), deafness, and cranial nerve palsies, numbness, paresthesia, weakness, and impaired bowel and bladder control have also been reported.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects including nausea (46%), vomiting (up to 44%), constipation (25%), diarrhea (12%), nausea (11%), abdominal pain (9%), dysphagia (8%), constipation (7%), and hemorrhoids (3%) have been reported.[Ref]


Other side effects including weakness (40%), pyrexia (up to 32%), fatigue (25%), asthenia (19%), lethargy (16%), death (14%), pain (up to 14%), peripheral edema (11%), back pain (7%), hypoacusis (6%), fall (5%), mucosal inflammation (3%), and edema (2%) have been reported.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects including back pain (24%), pain in limb (15%), neck pain (14%), arthralgia (11%), neck stiffness (11%), and muscle weakness (10%) have been reported.[Ref]


Psychiatric side effects including insomnia (14%), agitation (10%), depression (8%), and anxiety (7%) have been reported.[Ref]


Renal side effects including urinary tract infection (14%) have been reported.[Ref]


Metabolic side effects including dehydration (13%), decreased appetite (11%), hyponatremia (7%), peripheral edema (7%), hypokalemia (7%), hyperglycemia (6%), and anorexia (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects including anemia (12%), thrombocytopenia (up to 11%), and neutropenia (up to 10%) have been reported.[Ref]


Ocular side effects including blurred vision (11%) have been reported.


Respiratory side effects including dyspnea (10%), cough (7%), and pneumonia (6%) have been reported.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects including tachycardia (9%), hypotension (8%), and hypertension (6%) have been reported.[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects including urinary incontinence (7%) and urinary retention (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects including contusion (2%), pruritus (2%), and increased sweating (2%) have been reported.[Ref]


Oncologic side effects including a case of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma have been reported.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. DepoCyt (cytarabine liposomal)." Chiron Therapeutics, Emeryville, CA.

Some side effects of cytarabine liposomal may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

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