Novantrone (Mitoxantrone)

Warning: In certain instances, Novantrone has been shown to increase or cause serious heart damage. This can occur directly after the treatment or years down the road. Also, this medication has shown to have a link to causing secondary leukemia.

Indications: Novantrone is meant for those that are suffering from certain types of cancer or to help slow or ease the symptoms caused by Multiple Sclerosis. In either of these cases, the effects of the advanced stages of the disease can be dire. Cancerous cells that grow unharnessed eventually start to become malignant and attack the body, thus causing extreme amounts of pain and often death. MS is often characterized by a gradual onset of less mobility and other types of symptoms, which create and increase disability in individuals. To help slow the symptoms, as well as slow or stop the growth of cancerous cells, Novantrone uses mitoxantrone to help bolster healthy cells as well as the body’s natural defenses.

This medicine is frequently used with chemotherapy or other types of treatments in order to increase effectiveness of treatment. Common cancers treated with Novantrone include:

  • liver cancer
  • breast cancer
  • non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of lymph cells)
  • some types of leukemia (cancer of white blood cells)
  • Advanced hormoneresistant prostate cancer, in combination with low doses of oral corticosteroids.

Novantrone is also used to treat Multiple sclerosis (MS). In addition to the conditions mentioned in the article, Novantrone can be prescribed for other health problems. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Dosage: This medication is directly injected into a vein in the arm. It is not meant to come in contact with skin or anything besides the bloodstream. The frequency of injections for this medication, hence the dosage, will be up to the discretion of the doctor. The prescribed dosages and lengths will depend largely on the size of an individual, their prior state of health, as well as any other medications that are being taken. On average, this medication is injected into patients once about every three months for about two to three years. This figures into about 12 doses maximum, though the term may be longer or shorter depending on what the doctor prescribes.

Overdose: As with any drug, Novantrone overdose can be dangerous. Even at normal dose, Novantrone can severely damage the bone marrow, and cause a decrease in white blood cells and platelets. Novantrone may also cause kidney damage and /or serious heart problems, even years after the treatment has ended. In fragile patients, Novantrone can lead to death. Although rare, Novantrone increase the risk for developing leukemia in some patients. The risk is higher when the drug is taken in high dose or in combination with other chemotherapy medications.

Those adverse effects vary from one patient to another; no physician can tell how your body is going to react to Novantrone. Therefore, to reduce the risk of complications, avoid anything that might weaken your immune system and the risk of infection. During the treatment, keep all appointments with your doctor. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any symptom that indicates complications (see side effects below).

Interactions: There is not a full list of medicines that this medication is or is not compatible with. For those that are under consideration for taking this medication, make sure to tell your doctor about any other types of medications you are currently taking or treatments undergone in the past. The effectiveness of this medication is quite dependent on what other medications are present in an individual’s system. These medications may also have an effect on which symptoms of Novantrone present themselves.

Contraindications: This medication should not be used on those who have heart problems, may have heart damage, or any other type of blood-related disease or disorder (such as anemia). This medication should also not be used on those that will not be able to keep a regular schedule of dosages, as this may prove extremely serious or even fatal.

Side effects: Novantrone not only attack cancer cells but also non malignant cells, which often leads to adverse effects in most patients; most common Novantrone side effects include:

  • diarrhea
  • blue-green discoloration of urine
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • temporary hair loss
  • ulcers in the mouth and lips
  • bluish whites of the eyes
  • reduced urine volume
  • Stomach pain.

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • fainting
  • dizziness
  • pale skin
  • seizures
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • small red or purple dots on the skin
  • infection signs: hives, itching, rash, etc.
  • severe depression
  • difficulty swallowing
  • shortness of breath
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • abnormal or sudden low or high blood pressure
  • persistent abnormal heartbeat
  • Redness, pain, swelling, burning, or blue discoloration at the site where the injection was given

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