Treats certain kinds of leukemia. Also called ara-C.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not be treated with this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to cytarabine.
How to Use This Medicine
- This medicine, like all medicines used to treat cancer, is very strong. Make sure you understand why you are getting it and what the risks and benefits of treatment are. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor.
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin, into a muscle, or into a vein.
- A nurse or other caregiver trained to give cancer drugs will give your treatment.
If a dose is missed:
- This medicine needs to be given on a regular schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or the clinic where you get your treatments for instructions.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- If you get your treatments at a clinic, the staff at the clinic will keep your medicine there.
- If you get your treatments at home, you may need to store your medicine. Keep the medicine at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and light.
- Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.
- If you get your treatments at home, you should be given a special container for the used needles, medicine bag or bottles, and tubes. Put it where children or pets cannot reach it.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are taking digoxin (Lanoxin®).
- You should not use aspirin or any product that has aspirin in it (such as some cold medicines) unless you have talked to your doctor.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
- Talk to your doctor before getting any vaccines (such as flu shots).
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Do not breastfeed while you are getting this medicine.
- It may be easier for you to get infections while getting this medicine. Stay away from crowds or people with colds, flu, or other infections.
- This medicine may make your mouth sore and irritated. Brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush or mouth swab.
- Cytarabine can cause nausea and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to keep you from feeling sick and throwing up. If the medicine does not help (you can't keep liquids down), call your doctor.
- Do not get pregnant while you or your sexual partner are receiving cytarabine. Use an effective method of birth control while you are being treated with this medicine.
- If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor before you start your treatments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Fever, chills, or sore throat
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Uncontrollable nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Painful mouth sores that keep you from drinking liquids
- Wheezing, trouble breathing
- Severe rash or hives
- Trouble standing or walking
- Yellowing of skin or eyes
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
- Hair loss
- Mild rash
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013