The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Red and white blood cell counts are affected by leukemia and its treatment. Anemia is a drop in red blood cells that can leave you feeling tired or lightheaded, and looking pale. A drop in white blood cells leaves you vulnerable to infection. Your doctor may recommend specific medications that will help boost your healthy blood cell count to help ease symptoms.
Filgrastim and pegfilgrastim are used to help stimulate the production of normal white blood cells. This will help reduce your risk of infection and may help you tolerate larger doses of chemotherapy.
Possible side effects include: Hair lossRashBone painHeadacheFeverFatigue
Epoetin alfa is a duplicate of a hormone that naturally stimulates the production of red cells by the bone marrow. Production will improve your red cell counts, reducing symptoms of anemia.
Possible side effects include: NauseaVomitingRashBone painMuscle achesHeadacheCough
Targeted therapy uses medications to seek out cancer cells and destroy them. They can be used alone or with other chemotherapy drugs. Because they target cancer cells specifically, the side effects are not as severe as with chemotherapy drugs.
Imatinib is a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It reduces the number of cancer cells in the blood and bone marrow. It is taken by mouth.
Possible side effects include: NauseaMuscle crampsRashDiarrheaHeartburnHeadache
Nilotinib is used to treat those with CML and Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who cannot take other medications, or who are resistant to them. It is taken by mouth twice per day.
Possible side effects include:
RashNauseaConstipationDiarrheaFatigueHeadacheVomitingDrop in white blood cell or platelet counts
Dasatinib is used to treat those with CML and Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who cannot take other medications, or who are resistant to them. It is taken by mouth twice per day.
Possible side effects include: Fluid retentionDrop in white blood cell or platelet countsHeadacheDiarrheaFatigueShortness of breathRashMuscle aches
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines: Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule. Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.Plan ahead for refills if you need them.Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (ALL). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 31, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL). Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 5, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Chronic myeloid leukemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 19, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Dasatinib. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/drugs/dasatinib. Updated September 17, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Nilotinib. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/drugs/nilotinib. Updated September 18, 2014. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Targeted therapy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003024-pdf.pdf. Accessed February 4, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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