Cytarabine is used on its own or together with other medicines to treat certain types of cancer of the blood and lymph glands.
Cytarabine may be injected (syringe) or given via infusion (drip) into the vein. It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
This medicine may also be injected subcutaneously (into the fatty layer under the skin).
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
The dose, route and schedule of administration of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the course of the treatment depending on your condition and response to the medication.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any dose. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Cytarabine.
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.
Alert your doctor if you have an active brain infection as the liposomal form of Cytarabine may not be suitable for you.
Inform you doctor if you have the following conditions:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- low blood cell count due to some cause other than cancer
- gout (abnormal metabolism of uric acid)
- had severe effects on your brain after radiation treatment or treatment with another anticancer medicine
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you become pregnant while being treated with this medicine, alert your doctor immediately. Cytarabine may cause harm to your unborn child. You must use proven birth control methods. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you are going for an operation, including minor surgery and dental work, inform your doctor or dentist that you are on Cytarabine medication.
Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. Do not receive any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. You will need to have regular blood tests to check your blood counts, uric acid level, liver and kidney function. Your doctor will advise you on how often you will need to have these tests.
Cytarabine may cause any of the following side effects: dizziness, headache, hair loss, skin rash, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, mouth ulcers, bone pain, muscle pain, and inflammation or pain at injection site.
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.
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).
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor immediately if you experience:
- signs of infection such as fever, chill, night sweats, flu-like symptoms, sore throat, mouth sore, tiredness, persistent cough
- severe stomach pain, severe nausea or vomiting, severe diarrhoea
- difficulty in breathing, pain in chest
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- other medicines for cancer e.g. methotrexate
- medicine for heart disease e.g. digoxin
- certain antibiotics e.g. gentamicin
- medicine used to treat fungal infection e.g. 5-fluorocytosine
- live vaccines
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Cytarabine.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Protect from light.
As this is a cancer medicine, any unused or expired vials should be handed to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.