Cytarabine (Cytosar, Cytosar-U, Ara-C)
Brand name: Cytosar-U®
Other names: Ara-C,
Manufacturer / Distributor:
Cytarabine is available by prescription only
Cytarabine is given by
injection into a vein (intravenous), injection into the muscle (intramuscular injection) or injection into the
spinal cord (intrathecal infusion)
Cytarabine is used alone or in combination with other chemotherapy agents in the treatment
- Certain types of
Cytarabine is sometimes used to treat
other medical conditions not mentioned in this article; talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Dosage: to recommend an effective dose of
Cytarabine, your doctor will base on your health in general, other drugs you are taking, type of
you have, and your body mass area (BSA). The reactions of your body to the drug can determine if the treatment
needs to be adjusted or stopped. Usually, cytarabine are administered daily over a period of time, which will be
determined by your oncologist according to condition and your body's reaction to the medication. In general,
each treatment cycle is followed by a pause.
Cytarabine comes in a solution form to
be taken by intravenous, intramuscular or intrathecal infusion. The drug is administered in a hospital or a
medical center having sterilization equipment available for its preparation. Either in hospital or a health
center, Cytarabine must be prepared and administered by medical specialists who have experience in chemotherapy
drugs. Cytarabine can seriously decrease the number of blood cells in your bone marrow; a special monitoring
during the treatment is necessary.
cytarabine is administered in hospital by professionals; the risk of overdose is virtually nonexistent. In case
that accidental overdose happens, immediate medical attention is required. Cytarabine overdose may cause severe and
even fatal health problems. There is no unique treatment for Cytarabine overdose; treatment is symptomatic and
the fact that
Cytarabine is administered in hospital, it is basically difficult for you to miss a dose if you respect your
doctor appointment. If for some reasons you cannot be present at the hospital for the therapy, contact your
oncologist before the date scheduled for the treatment. Do not discontinue the therapy because you experience
side effects; side effects do not mean the drug does not work you. In fact, most patients being treated with
Cytarabine develop adverse effects.
Mechanism of action (MOA):
Cytarabine 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 Cytarabine.
Cytarabine is contraindicated, or should be used with precaution in these conditions:
to cytarabine or any of its components
who are breast-feeding.
Cytarabine can affect the liver and/or
kidney functions. A strict hematologic, hepatic (liver), renal (kidney) monitoring is necessary during the
particularly during the induction phase. It is also important that your doctor regularly do tests to check your
bone marrow status.
talk you to
your doctor before taking
vitamins, nutritional supplements, or St. John wort.
Some drugs can alter the effects of Cytarabine and increased risk of developing side effects. Consult your doctor
before taking the following medicines:
an antiviral drug
a polyene antifungal
immune system inhibitor
- Digoxin, a medication used in the treatment of several
chemotherapy used to stop the
growth of cancer cells
a medication used to treat
irregular heart beat
- Barbiturates, depressant drug that causes relaxation and
, a drug
used to inhibit the production of
acid in the stomach
medication used to treat pain
associated with gouty arthritis
(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.
by attacking the
cells, Cytarabine also attack some normal cells that multiply quickly, which can cause various adverse effects.
Most common Cytarabine side effects include:
- joint pain
- Cramp or
tingling in the hands or feet.
Cytarabine can cause
serious side effects which require medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of
- muscle weakness
- persistent cough and sore
- blurred vision
- black, tarry
- unusual bruising or
of the skin or eyes
and pain at the injection site
- Fever, which can be a
sign of infection.