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Drugs

Side Effects
Altretamine


Drug Class:
Antineoplastic (anticancer) agent

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: No

Hexalen 50 mg
(US Bioscience
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Capsules

Why Prescribed
To treat persistent or recurrent ovarian cancer. This drug is generally used following first-line treatment with other chemotherapy agents.

How It Works
The exact mechanism of action of altretamine is not known, but the drug appears to interfere with the synthesis of genetic material within cells, thereby inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

Range and Frequency
260 mg per square meter of body size, in four equally divided doses per day (at mealtimes and at bedtime), generally given 14 or 21 consecutive days out of a 28-day cycle. The actual dose will depend on how much toxicity has occurred in previous cycles of chemotherapy.

Onset of Effect
Peak blood levels are achieved within three hours.

Duration of Action
Up to 10 hours.

Dietary Advice
Take it after meals to minimize nausea and vomiting. Maintain adequate intake of food and fluids.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat and direct light.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember, unless it is almost time for the next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and take the next one. If you miss more than one dose, call your doctor.

Stopping the Drug
The decision to stop taking the drug should be made in consultation with your physician.

Prolonged Use
Prolonged use can increase the incidence of nausea and vomiting, which can be treated by antiemetic drugs. Blood tests should be taken every two to four weeks and prior to the beginning of each new course of therapy with altretamine. Neurological exams should be performed regularly as well to determine whether altretamine is causing any nerve damage.

Over 60
No special problems are expected.

Driving and Hazardous Work
This drug may produce side effects such as dizziness or nausea; avoid any potentially dangerous activities until you determine how the medication affects you.

Alcohol
Alcohol intake should be limited; drink only in moderation while taking this drug.

Pregnancy
Altretamine should not be used during pregnancy because it may cause birth defects. When using this drug, a reliable method of birth control is recommended.

Breast Feeding
Breast feeding is not recommended; altretamine passes into breast milk and may harm the nursing child.

Infants and Children
No specific information on use in children is available.

Special Concerns
This drug may affect your ability to resist infections. If possible, avoid others who are sick with any sort of infection. Be careful when using a toothbrush, dental floss, or a toothpick, and check with your doctor before having any dental work done. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, unless your hands are very clean. Be careful not to cut yourself with objects such as razors or nail clippers, and avoid contact sports or any other activities that could result in injuries.

Overdose Symptoms
The symptoms of an altretamine overdose have not been well-defined, but an overdose may be life-threatening.

What to Do
If someone takes a much larger dose than prescribed, call emergency medical services (EMS) immediately to receive evaluation and treatment in the closest emergency facility.

Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor if you are taking amphotericin B (by injection), antithyroid drugs, azathioprine, chlorambucil, colchicine, flucytosine, ganciclovir, interferon, plicamycin, zidovudine, or an MAO inhibitor (a class of antidepressants). Do not get vaccinated against bacteria or viruses while you are taking altretamine.

Food Interactions
None expected.

Disease Interactions
Caution is advised when taking altretamine. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following conditions: bone marrow depression, chicken pox, shingles, any infection, or reduced kidney function.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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