Cladribine is used to treat hairy cell leukaemia and B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. These are certain types of blood cancer wherein the bone marrow produces too many white blood cells called lymphocytes.
This medicine may be used to treat other conditions as decided by your doctor.
Cladribine is to be given intravenously (into the vein) as an infusion. It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Cladribine.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or injection should be given as soon as possible.
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant. If you become pregnant while on Cladribine therapy, alert your doctor immediately. This medicine may cause harm to your unborn child.
Men should not father a child while being treated with this medicine. Both men and women must use proven birth control methods during Cladribine therapy and for at least 6 months after stopping the treatment. You may wish to discuss reliable methods of birth control with your doctor.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with Cladribine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.
Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. You must avoid any vaccinations without consulting with your doctor.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?
- active infection
- blood or immune system disorders
- liver disease
- kidney disease
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Pregnancy test must be done before treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to use.
- Routine tests (e.g. complete blood count, liver and kidney function) may be done before and during your treatment with Cladribine. Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
- Regular monitoring for signs of infection and changes in urination may also be needed.
Cladribine may cause drowsiness or dizziness. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert.
Other side effects include any of the following: headache, eye inflammation, abnormal breath sounds, cough, chills, excessive sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, stomach wind, diarrhoea, constipation, muscle or joint pain, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, skin rash, and pain, redness or swelling at the infusion site.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark coloured urine, tiredness, swelling in the legs and ankles
- changes in urination e.g. pain or discomfort when urinating, unable to pass urine
- blurred or double vision, confusion, memory loss, problems with balance, trouble speaking or thinking, persistent numbness, weakness in arms or legs, loss of sensation
This medicine will cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Alert your doctor if you have a fever, or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Avoid vaccinations during treatment with Cladribine. Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated or if you are planning to get vaccinated.
Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or using any of these medicines:
- other medicines that affect the production of blood cells in the bone marrow
- fludarabine (other medicine used to treat leukaemia)
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Cladribine.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or using any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8°C.
Protect from light.
Keep away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As Cladribine is a cancer medicine, always return any unused or expired medicine to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.