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 cancer chemotherapy                                                             


Hydroxyurea (Hydrea) 



Brand name: Hydrea    


Generic name: Hydroxyurea  

Other names: Droxia, Mylocel 

Therapeutic Class:  antimetabolite  

Manufacturer / Distributor:  Bristol-Myers Squibb 

Availability: Hydroxyurea is available by prescription only  

Indications: Hydroxyurea is used to treat the following malignancies: 


  • certain forms of skin cancer  
  • cancers of the head and neck, excluding lips 
  • certain forms of leukemia  
  • Ovarian cancer that has spread or returned after treatment; in short, all ovarian cancers that are not responded to the standard therapy.  

Hydroxyurea may also be prescribed to treat other medical conditions not mentioned in this article. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information on Hydroxyurea.  

Dosage form: Hydroxyurea comes as in capsule to be taken by mouth 

Dosage: The dosage of Hydroxyurea recommended by your oncologist varies depending on your condition, the type or severity of cancer, and your body surface area (BSA). If you are taking other chemotherapy drugs, you can be recommended to take a lower dosage.  Hydroxyurea is usually taken once a day. If you receive radiotherapy at the same time, Hydroxyurea should be taken at least seven days before the beginning of the radiotherapy. In the absence of complications, you should continue taking the drug during and after the therapy. You may experience side effects while taking Hydroxyurea, it is not a reason to discontinue the treatment; contact your doctor before taking any decision.   

Depending on the reaction of your body or your health status, your oncologist may adjust the doses. If your doctor has recommended a dosage different from the one indicated above, it is important to follow the directions exactly; do not change or discontinue the therapy without first consulting your doctor; this can cause serious health problems.  

The best way to take Hydroxyurea is to swallow it. If you cannot swallow the capsule, pour the contents into a glass of water and drink it immediately. It is important not to inhale the powder. Avoid Hydroxyurea from coming into contact with your skin or mucous membranes. If the powder is spilled, you must wipe it immediately.  

Storage: store Hydroxyurea at room temperature (15-25 ° C), away from heat above 40 ° C, light and moisture. Keep the medication out of the reach of children . Hydroxyurea and all other drugs should not be used beyond the expiration date printed on the container.    

Overdose: Hydroxyurea can cause a life-threatening decrease in the number of blood cells in your body. As with any drug, Hydroxyurea overdose may be dangerous, mainly if taken for long term. In fact, an overdose of Hydroxyurea can lead to death in fragile patients. Contact your doctor or the poison control center nearest you if you experience the following symptoms:   

  • dizziness
  • confusion 
  • fast heartbeat 
  • shortness of breath 
  • unusual bleeding or bruising  
  • Signs of infection: fever, sore throat, chills, cough, etc.   

Missing dose: take Hydroxyurea and all medications as prescribed. In case you forget to take a dose, take the missed one as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not double the next dose to recover the missing, it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule. This applies not only to Hydroxyurea but also any other drug.   

Contraindication: Hydroxyurea is contraindicated or should be used with precautions in the following conditions: 

  • anemia  
  • infants 
  • children  
  • elderly  
  • kidney failure 
  • pregnancy or breastfeeding  
  • infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)  
  • Allergy to Hydra or one of its ingredients.   

Mechanism of action (MOA):  Hydroxyurea belongs to the class of chemotherapy drugs called antimetabolites. Normally, before a cell divides into two, its DNA is copied and each daughter cell receives a copy. Hydroxyurea slows or stops growth of cancer cells by interfering with their DNA material they need for reproduction.  

Interactions: talk you to your doctor before prescription or non prescription medications including vitamins and nutritional supplements. Some medicines are not recommended to be taken with Hydroxyurea. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications:  

  • Interferons (Actimmune, Avonex, Betaseron, Rebif, etc.) 
  • Aids/HIV medications such as didanosine (Videx) and stavudine (Zerit)  
  • sulfinpyrazone (Anturane)
  • Probenecid (Benuryl)
  • live vaccines: BCG, yellow fever vaccine, etc..  
  • Ganciclovir, an antiviral drug
  • Azathioprine, an immune system inhibitor 
  • Barbiturates, depressant drugs 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 of gouty arthritis
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Cytoxan, Neosar, Procytox, Revimmune), a drug used to treat several types of cancers
  • All other chemotherapy medications.  

Side effects: Hydroxyurea not only cancer cells but also normal (healthy) cells, which often leads to, in certain patients, the following side effects:     

  • hair loss 
  • constipation 
  • nausea 
  • vomiting 
  • diarrhea 
  • drowsiness 
  • mouth sores 
  • skin rash 
  • difficulty sleepiness
  • decreased appetite 
  • mild nausea and vomiting  
  • tiredness or weakness 
  • Unusual purple, blue, or black discoloration on the nails.

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

  • anxiety 
  • depression 
  • nose bleeding 
  • fast or irregular heart beat  
  • chest pain 
  • shortness of breath 
  • dizziness 
  • intense headache 
  • moderate to severe nausea or vomiting  
  • wheezing  
  • feeling of constriction of the throat
  • Swelling of feet or lower legs.