Antimetabolites for Chemotherapy
How It Works
These chemotherapy medicines are classified as antimetabolites. Antimetabolites are medicines that interfere with the DNA and RNA inside cancer cells. They damage the cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying.
Why It Is Used
How Well It Works
These medicines work well in treating cancer. But the type and extent of a cancer affects how well this medicine slows or stops the growth of those cancer cells.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Capecitabine can cause serious bleeding and death when used in combination with blood-thinning drugs (anticoagulants), such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin). Tell your doctor if you are taking an anticoagulant drug. If you have any unusual bleeding or bruising, call your doctor immediately.
Hydroxyurea can cause skin ulcers, especially on the legs. But this is rare.
Nelarabine may affect your thinking or reactions. If it does, don't drive or do things that require you to be alert.
Common side effects of these medicines include:
These medicines may also cause:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Some of these medicines may interact with many other medicines. Be sure that your doctor has a complete list of all prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking.
These medicines may cause very serious side effects and even death. Do not drink alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine, while you are being treated with these medicines.
Cytarabine is often given with another medicine called dexamethasone, especially when cytarabine is given in higher doses than usual. This is done to prevent a possibly fatal side effect called chemical arachnoiditis. This causes symptoms that include eye problems, nausea, vomiting, headache, and fever. You will be closely monitored while you are given cytarabine.
Fluorouracil is often given with another medicine called leucovorin. This can increase your chance of severe side effects.
Mercaptopurine can cause problems in people who inherit genes that make their bodies more sensitive to this medicine. So gene testing may be done before you get this medicine. This medicine can also cause blood, liver, kidney, or gastrointestinal problems, so your doctor will watch you closely for any changes and do any necessary testing.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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