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Cancer Glossary Cancer Diet Guide Support Groups

Ara-C (Cytarabine)  

Warning: Before beginning use of Ara-C, make sure that your doctor and pharmacist have a current record of all medications you have previously taken – and those medications you are taking now. Drug interactions with this medication can be serious, but they are avoidable as long as your doctor knows what treatments you are using. If you’ve been immunized or vaccinated, make sure that your doctor is aware of this as soon as possible and do not receive a vaccination or immunization while using this medication without your doctors approval. If you are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, notify your doctor before starting this medication.  

Indications: Ara-C is a medication used in the treatment of various forms of cancer. As a chemotherapy drug, it is injected under the skin in order to be properly controlled and effective. This medication is commonly used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and various types of leukemia as part of a chemotherapy treatment process.

This medication, and most all chemotherapy medications, can help slow down or even stop the growth of cancerous cells.

Dosage: Ara-C is administered by health care professional via IV or injection. Depending on the best course of action for the patient, the medication may be injected in to the vein or it may be placed between the skin and muscle tissue where it will absorb into the body. As of the writing of this document no pill or oral version of this medication is available. Each patient receives a dosage and administration style that is unique to their needs. Dosage is very delicate and must be defined for each patient, so do not change the dosage of your medication without consulting your doctor first.

Overdose: Ara-C is administered in hospital by professionals; the risk of overdose is virtually nonexistent. In case that accidental overdose happens, immediate medical attention is required. Ara-C overdose may cause severe and even fatal health problems. There is no unique treatment for Ara-C overdose; treatment is symptomatic and close monitoring.    

Mechanism of action (MOA): Ara-C works by selectively inhibiting DNA synthesis. Once their DNAs are damaged, cancer cells (also healthy normal) which require DNA to reproduce become unable to multiply. Unfortunately some rapidly dividing healthy cells are damaged by Ara-C. 

Contraindications : Each patient will react to this medication in a unique way, so the best thing that you can do to avoid any problems is stay in regular contact with your medical professional. Contraindications include, but are not limited to, pregnancy, some health problems, past cancer treatments, the use of other medications, and vaccines or immunizations. Make sure that you receive a full evaluation from your doctor before starting this medication, and keep your doctor posted on any changes in your health while taking this drug.

 

Interactions: There are several types of prescription medication, over the counter medication, and herbal remedies which may interact negatively with Ara-C. Make sure that your doctor has a complete list of all medications and other drugs you are taking before you start using this medication, and do not add any medication or drugs without consulting your doctor first. Therefore, talk you to your doctor before taking vitamins, nutritional supplements, or St. John wort. Some drugs can alter the effects of Ara-C and increased risk of developing side effects. Consult your doctor before taking the following medicines:  

  • vaccins    
  • Ganciclovir , an antiviral drug    
  • Amphotericin B, a polyene antifungal drug   
  • Azathioprine , an immune system inhibitor   
  • Digoxin, a medication used in the treatment of several heart conditions   
  • Plicamycin , a chemotherapy used to stop the growth of cancer cells   
  • Amiodarone , a medication used to treat irregular heart beat   
  • Barbiturates, depressant drug that causes relaxation and sleepiness   
  • Cimetidine , a drug used to inhibit the production of acid in the stomach   
  • Colchicines , a medication used to treat pain associated with gouty arthritis   
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), a medication of the alkylating agent family used to treat a variety of cancers    
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Cytoxan, Neosar, Procytox, Revimmune), a drug used to treat several types of cancers. 

Side effects:  By attacking the cancer cells, Ara-C also attack some normal cells that multiply quickly, which can cause various adverse effects. Most common Ara-C side effects include: 

  • joint pain
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • weakness
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • Cramp or tingling in the hands or feet.

Ara-C can cause serious side effects which require medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:   

  • painful urination  
  • bloody urine  
  • muscle weakness 
  • persistent cough and sore throat  
  • abdominal pain  
  • blurred vision 
  • black, tarry stools
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • swelling and pain at the injection site
  • Fever, which can be a sign of infection.

 

For more chemotherapy side effects and steps to take manage them, please visit www.cancereffects.com