Procarbazine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
Advertisement

Generic Name:

procarbazine, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Matulane
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for procarbazine

Oral capsule
1

Procarbazine is used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is a type of lymph node cancer. This drug is sometimes used in combination with other medications to treat your cancer.

2

This drug is available as a capsule that you take by mouth.

3

Procarbazine is only available as the brand-name drug Matulane. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug include nausea, vomiting, and low levels of red and white blood cells and platelets.

5

In some cases, procarbazine can cause serious side effects. These include severe allergic reactions, central nervous system problems, and changes in your vision.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Doctor supervision warning. You’ll take this drug at home. However, your doctor will monitor you closely throughout your treatment. You should only take this drug if you’re under the care of a doctor who has experience with strong cancer drugs. Your doctor’s treatment center should have the equipment to monitor you properly.

Alcohol use

You shouldn’t drink alcohol while you’re taking this drug. Alcohol can interact with this medication. It may cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause low blood pressure, a fast heart rate, and flushing (reddening and warming of your skin).

Bone marrow suppression

This drug can cause bone marrow suppression 2–8 weeks after you start treatment. This condition lowers your number of white and red blood cells and platelets. White blood cells help you fight off infections and red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout your body. Platelets help your blood to clot. Your doctor will monitor your blood counts closely. If your blood cell counts drop too low, your doctor may decrease your dose or stop your treatment with this drug.

What is procarbazine?

Procarbazine is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral capsule.

Procarbazine is only available as the brand-name drug Matulane. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

This drug is sometimes used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications to treat your cancer.

Why it's used

Procarbazine is used to treat stage 3 and stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

See Details

How it works

Procarbazine belongs to a class of drugs called antineoplastic (anticancer) agents.

See Details

Why it's used

Procarbazine is used to treat stage 3 and stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is a type of lymph node cancer.

This drug is sometimes used with other medications as part of the MOPP regimen.. If you’re on the MOPP regimen, you’ll take this drug with nitrogen mustard, vincristine, and prednisone.

How it works

Procarbazine belongs to a class of drugs called antineoplastic (anticancer) agents. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Procarbazine works by interfering with the normal function of cancer cells. It stops them from forming or growing properly. This eventually destroys the cells.

Advertisement
SECTION 2 of 5

procarbazine Side Effects

Oral capsule

More common side effects

The more common side effects of procarbazine can include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Bone marrow suppression. This causes:

    • Low white blood cell level. This may cause you to get an infection. Symptoms can include:
      • fever
      • cold symptoms, such as runny nose or sore throat that doesn’t go away
      • flu symptoms, such as cough, tiredness, and body aches
      • pain during urination
      • white patches in your mouth or throat
    • Low platelet level. This may cause bleeding. Symptoms can include:
      • bleeding or bruising more easily than normal
      • unexplained bleeding
      • bleeding that lasts a long time
      • coughing up blood
      • vomit that contains blood or that looks like coffee grounds
      • bloody urine
      • dark or bloody stools
      • headaches
      • weakness
      • dizziness
    • Low red blood cell level. This may cause anemia. Symptoms can include:
      • pale skin
      • extreme tiredness
      • lightheadedness
      • fast heart rate

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Severe allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:

    • itching
    • rash
    • hives
    • swelling of your face, lips, throat, or mouth
    • trouble breathing
  • Central nervous system problems. Symptoms can include:

    • tingling sensation (a feeling of “pins and needles”)
    • nerve pain, burning, or numbness of your hands or feet
    • confusion
  • Stomatitis. This condition causes a small ulcer or sore spot around your mouth.

  • Diarrhea

  • Changes in your vision. Symptoms can include:

    • blurry vision
    • double vision
    • not being able to focus
    • sensitivity to light
  • Bleeding. Symptoms can include:

    • unexplained bruising
    • unexpected bleeding or bleeding that lasts a long time, such as:
      • unusual bleeding from your gums
      • frequent nosebleeds
      • periods that are heavier than normal
    • coughing up blood
    • vomiting blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
    • bloody urine
    • dark or bloody stools
    • headaches
    • weakness
    • dizziness
  • Anemia. Symptoms can include:

    • pale skin
    • extreme tiredness
    • lightheadedness
    • fast heart rate
  • Liver damage. Symptoms can include:

    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
    • pain in the upper right part of your stomach
    • nausea or vomiting
    • dark-colored urine
    • tiredness
  • Mental issues. Symptoms can include:

    • hallucinations (seeing or hearing something that isn’t real)
    • depression, with symptoms such as:
      • feeling hopeless and worthless
      • tiredness or lack of energy
      • trouble sleeping
    • nervousness
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Procarbazine may cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

procarbazine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Procarbazine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

You shouldn’t eat foods that contain high levels of tyramine while you’re taking this drug. Tyramine is a substance found in some foods. These include wine, yogurt, bananas, and aged cheeses (such as blue cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and Swiss). Eating these foods can cause a dangerous increase in your blood pressure.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol will cause a dangerous reaction from procarbazine. Symptoms include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, fast heart rate, and flushing (reddening and warming of your skin). You shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking this drug.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with procarbazine

Do not take these drugs with procarbazine. When used with procarbazine, these drugs can cause dangerous effects in your body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Drugs used to treat cardiac arrest, such as phenylephrine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine
    • Taking these drugs with procarbazine can cause your blood pressure to get too high. This could cause you to need treatment in a hospital.
  • Depression drugs, such as amitriptyline and imipramine
    • Taking these drugs with procarbazine raises your risk of serotonin syndrome. This is a condition caused by having too much of the chemical serotonin in your body. Symptoms may include a dangerously fast heart rate, high blood pressure, and high body temperature. They may also include muscle tremors (constant shaking) or stiffness, irritability, and confusion.

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects
  • Side effects from other drugs: Taking procarbazine with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Drugs for high blood pressure, such as propranolol
      • Taking these drugs with procarbazine can cause dangerously low blood pressure. Symptoms can include dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting.
    • Barbiturates such as amobarbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital, and secobarbital
      • Taking these drugs with procarbazine can cause central nervous system depression. Symptoms can include decreased breathing or heart rate and loss of consciousness.
    • Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine
      • Taking these drugs with procarbazine can cause central nervous system depression. Symptoms may include decreased breathing or heart rate and loss of consciousness.
    • Narcotics such as codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone
      • Taking these drugs with procarbazine can cause central nervous system depression. Symptoms can include decreased breathing or heart rate and loss of consciousness.
    • Phenothiazines such as prochlorperazine and thioridazine
      • Taking these drugs with procarbazine can cause central nervous system depression. Symptoms can include decreased breathing or heart rate and loss of consciousness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Procarbazine warnings
kidney problem warning
People with kidney problems

If you have kidney problems or a history of kidney disease, you may not be able to clear this drug from your body well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects.

liver problem warning
People with liver problems

If you have liver problems or a history of liver disease, you may not be able to process this drug well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects.

bone marrow problems
People with bone marrow problems

This drug can cause bone marrow suppression. This may make your condition worse. You shouldn’t take this drug if you have bone marrow problems.

pregnancy warning
Pregnant women

Procarbazine is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should be only used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

breast feeding warning
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if procarbazine passes into breast milk. If it does, it may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You should not breastfeed while you are taking procarbazine.

senior warning
For seniors

The liver and kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

childrens warning
For children

This drug may cause tremors (constant shaking), seizures, and coma in children. Your child’s doctor will decide your child’s dose and monitor them closely.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergy warning
Allergies

Procarbazine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • itching
  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of your face, lips, throat, or mouth
  • trouble breathing

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take procarbazine (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Brand: Matulane

Form: oral capsule
Strength: 50 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • Typical starting dosage: The dosage for the first week is 2–4 mg/kg of body weight per day. You can take it in one dose or divided doses. Starting on a low dosage will reduce your risk of nausea and vomiting from this drug.
  • Dosage changes:
    • Your doctor will increase your dosage to 4–6 mg/kg of body weight per day. They’ll increase your dose until your body responds as well as it can to this drug or until your white blood cell or platelet counts fall below certain levels. Your doctor will monitor your blood cell levels closely.
    • Once your body responds to this drug as well as it can, your doctor will have you take a dose of 1–2 mg/kg per day.
    • If you have any severe side effects (such as blood, liver, or kidney side effects), your doctor will have you stop taking this drug right away. After your side effects go away, your doctor may start you on the 1–2 mg/kg per day dosage again.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: Your dosage will be based on your body surface area (measured in meters squared or m2). This is calculated from your height and weight. The typical starting dosage is 50 mg/m2 per day for the first week.
  • Dosage changes:
    • Your doctor will likely increase your dosage to 100 mg/m2 per day. They’ll increase your dose until your body responds as well as it can to this drug or until your white blood cell or platelet counts fall below certain levels. Your doctor will monitor your blood cell levels closely.
    • Once your body responds to this drug as well as it can, your doctor will have you take 50 mg/m2 per day.
    • If you have any severe side effects (such as blood, liver, or kidney side effects), your doctor will have you stop taking this drug right away. After your side effects go away, your doctor may start you on this drug again.
Special considerations

People who are using procarbazine with other drugs as part of the MOPP regimen: 100 mg/m2 for 14 days

People who are obese or who have weight gain due to fluid retention: Your doctor will decide your dosage based on your estimated lean body mass (dry weight).

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Procarbazine comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your cancer won’t be treated. This could eventually be fatal (cause death).

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

This drug may not work as well or may stop working completely. Your cancer will likely get worse.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • severe nausea and vomiting
  • severe diarrhea
  • low blood pressure, with symptoms such as:
    • dizziness,
    • lightheadedness
    • fainting
  • tremors (constant shaking)
  • convulsions or seizures
  • coma

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your cancer shouldn’t grow as quickly. You may recover. However, you probably won’t be able to tell if this drug is working. You may still feel sick because this drug can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Your doctor will do tests to tell if this drug is working for you.

Procarbazine is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking procarbazine
with or without
You can take this drug with or without food
timing considerations
Take this drug at the times recommended by your doctor
storage considerations
Store this drug carefully
See Details
medication is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
travel considerations
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring considerations
Clinical monitoring
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead
prior authorization needed
Insurance
See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store procarbazine at room temperature. Keep it between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor should monitor certain health issues during your treatment. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Blood cell counts. Before starting your treatment with this drug, your doctor will check your blood cell counts. They’ll check your blood cell counts again every 3–4 days during treatment. This will help make sure your levels are within a range that your doctor feels is right for you. If your blood cell counts drop too low, your doctor may decrease your dose or stop your treatment with this drug.
  • Kidney function. Your doctor will do blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working. They’ll check your kidney function before starting your treatment and every week during treatment. If your kidneys aren’t working well, your doctor may decrease your dose or stop your treatment with this drug.
  • Liver function. Your doctor will do blood tests to check how well your liver is working. They’ll check your liver function before starting your treatment and every week during treatment. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may decrease your dose or stop your treatment with this drug.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does procarbazine Cost?

Oral capsule

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

Compare prices and save up to 80% on your next refill!

Lowest price for procarbazine

Walgreens $283.79
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for procarbazine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for procarbazine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on February 10, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement