Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
Hydroxyurea belongs to a class of medicines known as ‘anti-neoplastic’ medicines. These medicines interfere with the growth of cancer cells.
Uses of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
It is used to treat some types of cancer like cervical cancer and a type of leukaemia called Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML).
Contraindications of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
When should one not use Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
- If you have allergy to Hydroxyurea or any of the ingredients of the medicine
- If you have a history of any blood-related problems
- If you are suffering from severe anaemia
Side effects of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Skin changes, muscle weakness, pains and weakness, especially on walking or climbing stairs
- Rashes on the face or parts of the body
- Absence or decreased sperms in semen (azoospermia or oligospermia)
- Reduced hunger, feeling sick, loose motions, constipation, stomach pain
- Lip or mouth sores, dark skin, redness, purple patches on skin
- Headache, hair loss, skin cancer
- Kidney problems
- Liver problems (pain below ribs, yellowing of eyes (jaundice)) and bile flow obstruction (itchiness, yellow skin, dark urine, and pale stools)
- Feeling drowsy or dizzy
- Fits, confusions or hallucinations (unreal feelings)
Precautions and Warnings of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
Can I take Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide during pregnancy?
Hydroxyurea is known to cause harm to the unborn baby. But cancer is a life-threatening condition which may harm the mother if not treated. Hence a careful decision has to be taken by the patient and the doctor.
Can I take Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide while breastfeeding?
Hydroxyurea is secreted in breast milk. But as cancer is a severe condition for which you cannot delay the treatment, it depends on the status of the patient and the doctor’s judgment whether to discontinue nursing or breastfeeding.
Can I drive if I have consumed Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide?
Hydroxyurea has the potential to cause drowsiness. Hence, caution is advised and you should drive only in the absence of any such symptoms that can affect the patient’s physical or mental ability.
Can I consume alcohol with Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide?
Alcohol does not interact directly with Hydroxyurea. Mild or occasional drinking may be permitted. But it must be remembered that alcohol delays healing and the process of recovery.
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- You have kidney or liver problems
- You have a history of gout, ulcers of the leg
- You are pregnant
Mode of Action of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
How Does It Work?
Hydroxyurea stops replication or multiplication of the cancer cells by interfering with DNA (genetic material) synthesis. Without DNA, the cancer cells cannot multiply so the cancer will be in control.
Interactions of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
Interactions with other medicines
- Any medicines that may suppress bone marrow function or to treat cancer
- Radiation treatment for cancer
- HIV/ AIDs medications (Didanosine, Stavudine, Ritonavir)
Interactions with food items
This medicine can be taken along with or without food.
Dietary Restrictions of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
Drink plenty of fluids.
Dosage of Hydroxyurea / Hydroxycarbamide
Take the dose exactly as prescribed. In case of overdose, the presence of any symptoms such as mouth ulcers, drowsiness, swelling, pain and purple discoloration of hands and feet should prompt emergency medical attention.
Missed a Dose
Do not take the missed dose. Continue with the next dose as per schedule. But, do not make a higher or a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is there anything else I need to know before taking Hydroxyurea?
- Long term treatment with Hydroxyurea may increase chances of secondary blood cancers or skin cancers
- You are advised to follow preventive measures such as avoiding direct contact with sun or light. Use protective clothing and sunscreen lotions during and for some time after completion of treatment
- Make sure your doctor examines your skin while on routine visits
- If therapy with radiation is also planned, Hydroxyurea should be started a week before
- The period to determine whether Hydroxyurea is working on your cancer or not is six weeks. Treatment is continued usually only if there is some response
- Regular blood tests, especially to monitor blood cell counts are necessary
- Report any side effects such as stomach pain, discomfort, vomiting, irritation, rashes and ulcers of lining of skin or mouth to the doctor promptly
- Treatment may have to be discontinued if the symptoms are severe
Q: Does Hydroxyurea cure this type of blood cell cancer (chronic myeloid leukemia)?
- Hydroxyurea is not the primary treatment for this type of white blood cell cancer
- A battery of diagnostic tests (some of them are complicated) are needed to determine the exact cause of this cancer and to determine what type of treatment needs to be given
- This whole process will take time
- In such cases, Hydroxyurea is provided to control the multiplication of the white blood cells
- Cancer means uncontrollable multiplication of cells. This medicine works well to bring the cell counts under control and is usually safe
- Once the cause of cancer has been determined, it can be decided what type of new medicines need to be added, or if radiation treatment is required or if Hydroxyurea can be discontinued
- Hydroxyurea alone does not cure cancer, but it is a good supportive medicine to achieve the cure
Last Updated on: 24 Dec 2020 | 01:48 PM (IST)
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