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Dacogen Side Effects

Generic Name: decitabine

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of decitabine. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Dacogen.

In Summary

Common side effects of Dacogen include: neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to decitabine: intravenous powder for solution

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by decitabine (the active ingredient contained in Dacogen). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking decitabine, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

More common:
  • Black, tarry stools
  • bladder pain
  • bleeding after defecation
  • bleeding gums
  • blood in urine or stools
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • blue lips and fingernails
  • blurred vision
  • body aches or pain
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • coma
  • congestion
  • convulsions
  • cough
  • coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
  • decreased urination
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • difficult, fast, noisy breathing, sometimes with wheezing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • dryness of throat
  • facial swelling
  • fainting
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • feeling unusually cold
  • fever
  • flushed, dry skin
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • fruit-like breath odor
  • headache
  • hives or welts
  • hoarseness
  • increased hunger
  • increased sweating
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • itching, pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth on skin
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • mood or mental changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • muscle spasms or twitching
  • nausea or vomiting
  • nervousness
  • numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips
  • pale skin
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • redness or pain at the catheter site
  • runny nose
  • seizures
  • shivering
  • shortness of breath
  • skin rash
  • small clicking, bubbling, or rattling sounds in the lung when listening with a stethoscope
  • small red or purple spots on skin, lips or in mouth
  • sneezing
  • sore mouth or tongue
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth
  • stomach pain and bloating
  • sunken eyes
  • swelling of face, hands, ankles, feet, or lower legs
  • swollen, painful, or tender lymph glands in neck, armpit, or groin
  • tightness in chest
  • trembling
  • trouble in swallowing
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • uncomfortable swelling around anus
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • voice changes
  • weakness or heaviness of legs
  • wheezing
  • white patches in mouth and/or on tongue
  • wrinkled skin
  • yellow eyes or skin
Less common:
  • Collection of blood under skin
  • deep, dark purple bruise
  • diarrhea
  • pain or tenderness around eyes and cheekbones
  • pain, warmth, or burning in fingers, toes, and legs
  • problems with vision or hearing
  • skin scrape or burn
  • stuffy nose
  • swelling at injection site

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with decitabine may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common:
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • anxiety
  • back pain
  • belching
  • bumps on skin
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • chest discomfort
  • constipation
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fall
  • hair loss, thinning of hair
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • loose stools
  • muscle stiffness
  • pain in arms or legs
  • pain in joints
  • sleeplessness
  • stomach discomfort or upset
  • swelling or inflammation of the mouth
  • trouble sleeping
  • unable to sleep
  • unusual drowsiness, dullness, or feeling of sluggishness
Less common:
  • Difficulty in moving
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • muscle aching
  • pain in the tongue
  • postnasal drip
  • pressure in the stomach
  • swollen joints

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to decitabine: intravenous powder for injection


Hematologic side effects including neutropenia (up to 90%), thrombocytopenia (up to 89%), anemia (up to 82%), febrile neutropenia (up to 29%), leukopenia (up to 28%), lymphadenopathy (12%), pancytopenia (5%), and thrombocythemia (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


General side effects including pyrexia (53%), fatigue (46%), pyrexia (36%), peripheral edema (up to 27%), rigors (22%), edema (up to 18%), chills (16%), asthenia (15%), pain (13%), lethargy (12%), tenderness (11%), mucosal inflammation (9%), fall (8%), chest discomfort (7%), intermittent pyrexia (6%), chest pain (6%), malaise (5%), pain (5%), and crepitations (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects including nausea (up to 42%), constipation (up to 35%), diarrhea (up to 34%), vomiting (up to 25%), abdominal pain (14%), oral mucosal petechiae (13%), stomatitis (up to 12%), dyspepsia (up to 12%), ascites (10%), gingival bleeding (8%), hemorrhoids (8%), loose stools (7%), tongue ulceration (7%), dysphagia (up to 6%), oral soft tissue disorder (6%), toothache (6%), abdominal pain upper (up to 6%), lip ulceration (5%), abdominal distension (5%), gastroesophageal reflux disease (5%), oral pain (5%), and glossodynia (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects including cough (up to 40%), dyspnea (29%), pharyngitis (16%), lung crackles (14%), epistaxis (13%), decreased breath sounds (10%), hypoxia (10%), pharyngolaryngeal pain (8%), rales (8%), pleural effusion (5%), sinus congestion (5%), and postnasal drip (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Other side effects have included vascular disorders such as petechiae (39%), pallor (23%), and hematoma (5%). Other side effects such as laboratory abnormalities including increased blood alkaline phosphatase (11%), increased aspartate aminotransferase (10%), increased blood urea (10%), decreased weight (9% ), contusions (9%), increased blood lactate dehydrogenase (8%), decreased blood albumin (7%), increased blood bilirubin (6% ), increased blood bicarbonate (6%), decreased blood chloride (6%), ear pain (6%), abnormal breath sounds (5% ), decreased protein total (5%), decreased blood bicarbonate (5%), and decreased blood bilirubin (5%) have also been reported.[Ref]


Metabolic side effects including hyperglycemia (up to 33%), hypoalbuminemia (24%), hypomagnesemia (up to 24%), anorexia (up to 23%), hypokalemia (up to 22%), hyponatremia (19%), decreased appetite (up to 16%), hyperkalemia (13%), and dehydration (up to 8%) have been reported.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects including headache (up to 28%), dizziness (up to 21%), and hypoesthesia (11%) have been reported.[Ref]


Psychiatric side effects including insomnia (up to 28%), confusional state (up to 12%), anxiety (up to 11%) and depression (9%) have been reported.[Ref]


Immunologic side effects have included infections and infestations such as pneumonia (22%), cellulitis (12%), candidal infection (10%), catheter related infection (8%), urinary tract infection (7%), staphylococcal infection (7%), oral candidiasis (6%), sinusitis (5%), and bacteremia (5%).[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects including ecchymosis (up to 22%), rash (19%), erythema (up to 14%), petechiae (12%), skin lesion (11%), pruritus (11%), rash (11%), alopecia (8%), dry skin (8%), urticaria (6%), facial swelling (6%), night sweats (5%), and cases of Sweet's syndrome (acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis) have been reported.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects including arthralgia (up to 20%), limb pain (19%), back pain (up to 18%), pain in extremity (18%), myalgia (up to 9%), chest wall pain (7%), muscle spasms (7%), musculoskeletal discomfort (6%), bone pain (6%), muscular weakness (5%), and musculoskeletal pain (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects including cardiac murmur (16%), hypotension (up to 11%), tachycardia (8%), hypertension (6%), pulmonary edema (6%) and congestive cardiac failure (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Hepatic side effects including hyperbilirubinemia (14%) have been reported.[Ref]


Hypersensitivity side effects including transfusion reactions (7%) have been reported.[Ref]


Ocular side effects including blurred vision (6%) have been reported.[Ref]


Genitourinary side effects including dysuria (6%) and urinary frequency (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


Local side effects including catheter site erythema (5%), catheter site pain (5%), and injection site swelling (5%) have been reported.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Dacogen (decitabine)." MGI Pharma Inc, Bloomington, MN.

Not all side effects for Dacogen may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. 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 substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.