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Cytarabine Solution for injection

This medicine reduces the growth of cancer cells and can suppress the immune system

Generic Name: cytarabine

Brand Names: Cytarabine Novaplus, Tarabine Pfs, Cytosar-U

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

    Experience of Supervising Clinician
  • Conventional cytarabine: Use only under supervision of qualified clinicians experienced in therapy with antineoplastic agents. Consider possible benefits vs known risks of cytarabine treatment.
  • Liposomal cytarabine: Use only under supervision of qualified clinicians experienced in intrathecal therapy with antineoplastic agents; adequate diagnostic and treatment facilities must be readily available for management of complications.
    Induction Therapy with Conventional Cytarabine
  • Patients should be treated in a facility with laboratory and supportive resources sufficient to monitor drug tolerance and protect and maintain a patient compromised by drug toxicity.
  • Risk of serious adverse effects, including myelosuppression with leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia. Less serious adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, oral ulceration, and hepatic dysfunction. (See Cautions.)
    Chemical Arachnoiditis with Intrathecal Liposomal Cytarabine
  • Chemical arachnoiditis, a syndrome manifested principally by nausea, vomiting, headache, and fever, commonly occurs. If left untreated, may be fatal. (See Chemical Arachnoiditis Related to Liposomal Cytarabine under Cautions.)
  • Administer dexamethasone to ameliorate symptoms and reduce incidence. (See Liposomal Cytarabine under Dosage and Administration.)

What is this medicine?

CYTARABINE, ARA-C (sye TARE a been) is a chemotherapy drug. This medicine reduces the growth of cancer cells and can suppress the immune system. It is used for treating leukemias or lymphomas. It is often given with other cancer drugs.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • bleeding problems
  • infection (especially a virus infection such as chickenpox, cold sores, or herpes)
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • recent or ongoing radiation therapy
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to cytarabine or ARA-C, benzyl alcohol, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for injection or infusion into a vein, or for injection under the skin. It may also be given into the spinal fluid. It is administered in a hospital or clinic by a doctor or health care professional.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss your dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • digoxin
  • fluorocytosine
  • gentamicin
  • vaccines

Talk to your doctor or health care professional before taking any of these medicines:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • ketoprofen
  • naproxen

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor for checks on your progress. This drug may make you feel generally unwell. This is not uncommon, as chemotherapy can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Report any side effects. Continue your course of treatment even though you feel ill unless your doctor tells you to stop.

In some cases, you may be given additional medicines to help with side effects. Follow all directions for their use.

Call your doctor or health care professional for advice if you get a fever, chills or sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. This drug decreases your body's ability to fight infections. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.

This medicine may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your doctor or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding.

Be careful brushing and flossing your teeth or using a toothpick because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are receiving this medicine.

Avoid taking products that contain aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen unless instructed by your doctor. These medicines may hide a fever.

Do not have any vaccinations without your doctor's approval and avoid anyone who has recently had oral polio vaccine.

Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.

Last Updated: March 24, 2009
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