Hydroxyurea (By mouth)
Treats certain types of cancer, including leukemia, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, and head and neck cancer.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to hydroxyurea, or if you are pregnant. You should not use this medicine if you have severe bone marrow or blood problems such as anemia (low red blood cells), leukopenia (low white blood cells), or thrombocytopenia (low platelets in the blood).
How to Use This Medicine
- Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
- Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- This medicine should be handled with care and people who are not taking this medicine should be careful to avoid touching it. To decrease the chance of touching the medicine:
- Wear disposable gloves when handling the capsules or bottles containing this medicine.
- Wash your hands before and after contact with the bottle or capsules.
- If powder from the capsule is spilled, you should wipe it up immediately with a damp disposable towel and discard it in a closed container, such as a plastic bag.
- You should keep medicine away from children and pets.
- To help you remember to use your medicine, try to get into the habit of taking it at the same time each day.
- You may also receive medicines to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
- This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
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 also using didanosine (Videx®) or stavudine (Zerit®), or if you are receiving radiation therapy or medicines that weaken the immune system (such as cancer medicines or steroids). Tell your doctor if you are using or have ever used interferon (Intron A®, Roferon-A®).
- Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Your unborn baby could be harmed if you use this medicine while you are pregnant. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, anemia, bone marrow problems, gout, HIV or AIDS infection, or a weak immune system.
- This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
- Using this medicine for a long time may increase your risk of developing cancer of the blood (leukemia). Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about this risk.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Black, tarry stools.
- Change in how much or how often you urinate, difficult or painful urination.
- Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pain in your upper stomach.
- Numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in your hands or feet.
- Rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin.
- Redness, soreness, or itching skin.
- Seizures (convulsions).
- Shortness of breath or troubled breathing.
- Sores, ulcers, or white patches in the mouth.
- Sudden and severe stomach pain, or lightheadedness.
- Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
- Thinning of the skin with easy bruising, especially when used on the face or fingers.
- Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
- Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Constipation or diarrhea.
- Discoloration of the skin or nails.
- Hair loss.
- Headache, dizziness, or drowsiness.
- Mild rash.
- Weight gain.
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