Busulfan is used to treat certain blood diseases and cancer, such as:
- chronic myeloid leukaemia (a type of cancer where the bone marrow produces too many white blood cells, called granulocytes)
- polycythaemia vera (a blood disease in which the body makes too many red blood cells)
- essential thrombocythaemia (higher than normal platelet counts which cause blood clots)
- myelofibrosis (a serious disorder in which fibrous scar tissue build up in the bone marrow)
This medicine may also be used together with other medicines to prepare you before undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.
Take Busulfan exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
You may take this medicine with or without food. Try to take it at the same time each day.
Swallow the tablet whole with a glass of water. Do not divide, chew or crush the tablet.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe depending on your condition and response to the medication.
Busulfan must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it unless instructed by the doctor.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Alert your doctor if you have previously taken Busulfan and it did not work.
This medicine is not suitable for individuals who do not have a definite diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukaemia.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- previous radiation therapy, chemotherapy of ≥3 cycles, or bone marrow transplantation
- history of epilepsy (fits or seizures)
- head trauma
- high uric acid level in the blood or urine
- acute porphyria (an inherited disorder that causes skin or nervous system abnormalities)
- thalassaemia (an inherited blood problem)
- kidney disease
- liver disease
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant. It is important that you do not get pregnant while being treated with Busulfan.
This medicine can sometimes reduce fertility in men. Men who plan to have children should inform their doctor.
Both men and women must use proven birth control methods during and after Busulfan therapy. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor.
Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving this medicine to a child or the elderly. Children and elderly people may be more sensitive to the side effects.
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Pregnancy tests must be done before initiation of treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to take.
- Routine tests (e.g. complete blood count, platelet count; heart, liver, and kidney function) may be done while you are being treated with Busulfan.
- Regular monitoring for signs and symptoms of adverse reactions in the blood, lungs, heart, and liver may also be needed.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
Busulfan may cause any of the following side effects: nausea, vomiting, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, pain when passing urine, hair loss, and appearance of dark patches on the skin.
This medicine may cause irregular or absence of menstrual periods and early start of menopause in women. It may also affect testicle size in men. Discuss with your doctor if you are concerned about these side effects.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- cough accompanied by chest pain, breathlessness, and fever
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- fits or seizures
- yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, dark coloured urine, tiredness, swelling in the legs and ankles
Busulfan 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.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- other medicines for cancer e.g. tioguanine
- metronidazole (antibiotic)
- itraconazole (medicine to treat fungal infection)
- phenytoin (medicine for epilepsy [fits or seizures])
- paracetamol (medicine to relieve pain and reduce fever)
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Busulfan.
Avoid vaccinations with live vaccines during treatment with this medicine. Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated or if you are planning to get vaccinated.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics, such as traditional Chinese medicine, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As this is a cancer medicine, always return any unused or expired tablets to the clinic, hospital, or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.