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Leukeran (Chlorambucil)

Warning: There have been some reports of Leukeran causing other forms of cancer in patients that are taking it. It is not known whether it is the patient’s medical condition or this treatment. Consult your doctor for more information.

This drug may also decrease your bone marrow function, which lessens your body’s ability to fight infection. Tell your doctor immediately if you suffer from any swollen areas, lumps, unusual bleeding/bruising, unusual tiredness or signs of an infection while taking this drug.

This medication may also cause damage to the genes and birth defects. It may also make women and men sterile.   

Indications: This drug is intended for the treatment for certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma. It is a chemotherapy drug that works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer.

In addition, Leukeran is used to treat the following cancers:  

  • Hodgkin's disease 
  • breast cancer 
  • ovarian cancer  
  • testicular cancer 
  • choriocarcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer that occurs in a woman's uterus 
  • Thrombocythemia, a blood disorder in which the body produces too many platelets (thrombocytes).  

There are also other treatments that haven’t been professionally published on the label to treat, but can be prescribed by your doctor, such as certain blood diseases, kidney disease in children that have not responded well to other treatment, and other disorders prescribed by your doctor.  

Storage: Keep Leukeran tightly closed and out of reach of children. Keep the medication in a dry place at room temperature and away from excess heat and humidity. It is not recommended to keep Leukeran in the bathroom. For more information, talk to your physician or pharmacist. 

Dosage: Leukeran is taken by mouth, or as prescribed by your doctor. You should drink plenty of fluids to avoid possible side effects with this drug.

The dosage prescribed depends on your medical condition, response to therapy and body size. Do not increase or decrease the dosage you are taking unless prescribed to do so by your doctor, as it may increase your risk for side effects.

Pregnant women should not use this medication as it can be inhaled through the lungs and absorbed through the skin.  

Overdose: It is very important to avoid Leukeran overdose. As all chemotherapy drugs, Leukeran can cause serious health problems including the development of other types of cancers. If you think you have taken an overdose of the drug, you should immediately contact your doctor or the poison control center nearest you. A health care provider can give you an antidote, symptomatic treatment or blood transfusion to slow or stop the toxic effects of the medication. 

Missing dose: Leukeran can be taken one or several times per day. If you have been recommended to take the drug once a day and you miss a dose until the next day, do not double the dose. If you have been recommended to take medication several times a day and forgotten until the next dose, skip the missed dose; do not double the dose. Don’t ever take less or more of the prescribed dose.  

Contraindications: Tell your doctor of any allergies you are aware of, including this or another chemotherapy drug, as you may have an allergic reaction.  

Tell your doctor of all your medical history, including gout, kidney stones, seizures or blood disorders.  

Do not have any immunizations while on this medication and avoid people that have recently had the oral polio vaccination.  

Wash your hands to avoid infection. 

Caution should be used when using Leukeran in children, as their risk for infertility later in life may be increased.  

In general, Leukeran should not be given to patients who have any of the following conditions: 

   

  • Pregnant women 
  • women who are breastfeeding 
  • blood disorders: bleeding disorders, platelet disorders, hemophilia and anemia
  • head injury  
  • recent or ongoing radiation therapy 
  • seizures 
  • certain viral infections: chickenpox, cold sores, herpes, etc. 
  • Unusual or allergic reaction to Leukeran or any of its components.  

Interactions: You should tell your doctor about all medications you are taking. You shouldn’t take nalidixic acid while on this medication, as it may cause serious interactions. If you are taking nalidixic acid you should tell your doctor before starting cholorambucil.

You should tell your doctor of all medications you are taking that may increase seizure risk, such as isoniazid, phenothiazines, theophylline, or tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline) among other medications.   

Tell your oncologist if you are taking any of the following:

  • vitamin supplements
  • St. John wort 
  • acetaminophen 
  • ketoprofen  
  • aspirin 
  • ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

Side effects:  The medication can interfere with healthy cells that multiply quickly, and cause adverse reactions. The most common Leukeran side effects of include:  

  • fatigue  
  • hair loss
  • dry skin
  • mouth blistering 
  • decreased appetite  
  • constipation or diarrhea 
  • skin disorders: rash, itching
  • Taste changes or metallic food taste.  

Although rare, Leukeran can cause serious side effects which require immediate medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • persistent fever  
  • sore throat 
  • red urine 
  • dizziness  
  • confusion or depression
  • congestion  
  • shortness of breath or breathing discomfort 
  • fainting (temporary loss of consciousness)
  • unusual bruising or bleeding 
  • Infection, which can be indicated by fever or sore throat.