This information from Lexicomp® explains what you need to know about this medication, including what it’s used for, how to take it, its side effects, and when to call your healthcare provider.
Brand Names: US
Brand Names: Canada
What is this drug used for?
- It is used to treat skin cancer.
- It is used to treat lung cancer.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?
- If you are allergic to this drug; any part of this drug; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
- If you are pregnant or may be pregnant. This drug may cause harm to an unborn baby. A pregnancy test will be done before you start this drug to show that you are NOT pregnant. If you may become pregnant, you must use birth control while taking this drug and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use birth control. If you get pregnant, call your doctor right away.
- If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take this drug or for 4 months after your last dose.
This drug may interact with other drugs or health problems.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- Severe health problems in some organs can happen with this drug. These may happen in the bowels, lungs, liver, thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, pancreas, kidneys, or other parts of the body. Nerve problems, muscle problems, or severe skin reactions may also happen. Sometimes, these problems have been deadly. These problems may happen anytime during or after treatment with this drug. If you have questions, talk with the doctor.
- Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, tiredness, decreased appetite, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- Call your doctor right away if you have signs of lung or breathing problems like shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, cough, or fever.
- A certain brain problem has happened with this drug. Rarely, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you are confused, sleepy, very tired or weak, or have a fever, hallucinations, memory problems, seizures, stiff neck, or very bad headache.
- Some people have had side effects during the infusion. Sometimes, these could be severe or life-threatening. Tell your doctor if you have back or neck pain, chills, shaking, dizziness, passing out, fever, flushing, itching, rash, shortness of breath, swelling of the face, or wheezing.
- It is common to have diarrhea with this drug. However, a bowel problem (colitis) with diarrhea has happened with this drug. This may lead to tears or holes in the bowels and may be life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you have bloody stools; dark, tarry, or sticky stools; diarrhea; or severe stomach pain.
- Low white blood cell counts have happened with this drug. This may lead to a higher chance of getting an infection. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, sore throat, blood in the urine, burning or pain when passing urine, needing to pass urine often, lower stomach pain, or pelvic pain. Call your doctor right away if you have skin oozing, heat, swelling, redness, or pain.
- Eye problems have happened with this drug. Some types of eye problems may need to be treated right away to lower the chance of long-lasting eyesight loss. Call your doctor right away if you have any changes in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
- If you are having or have had a stem cell transplant with stem cells from someone else (allogeneic), talk with your doctor. Some problems with these types of stem cell transplants have happened in people who have had this drug. These problems can be very bad and can lead to death.
- If you have had an organ transplant, talk with your doctor. You will need to watch for signs of organ rejection.
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of thyroid, pituitary, or adrenal gland problems like change in mood or behavior, change in weight or taste, constipation, deeper voice, dizziness, fainting, feeling cold, feeling very tired, hair loss, severe or long-lasting headache, change in sex interest, eye problems, fast heartbeat, more sweating, fast or deep breathing, sweet smelling breath, change in smell of urine or sweat, or passing urine more often.
- Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
- Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
- Signs of electrolyte problems like mood changes; confusion; muscle pain, cramps, or spasms; weakness; shakiness; change in balance; an abnormal heartbeat; seizures; loss of appetite; or severe upset stomach or throwing up.
- Signs of a very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in the mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- Signs of high blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eyesight.
- Muscle weakness.
- Chest pain or pressure, a fast heartbeat, or an abnormal heartbeat.
- Swelling in the arms or legs.
- Sweating a lot.
- A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
- Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
- Swollen gland.
What are some other side effects of this drug?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
For all patients taking this drug:
- Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, upset stomach, throwing up, or decreased appetite.
- Back, bone, joint, or muscle pain.
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Signs of a common cold.
- Trouble sleeping.
For lung cancer:
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
How is this drug best taken?
Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- High blood pressure has happened with this drug. Have your blood pressure checked as you have been told by your doctor.
- High blood sugar has happened with this drug. This includes diabetes that is new or worse.
- Check your blood sugar as you have been told by your doctor.
- Tell your doctor if you have signs of high blood sugar like confusion, feeling sleepy, unusual thirst or hunger, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Call your doctor to find out what to do.
How do I store and/or throw out this drug?
- If you need to store this drug at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.
General drug facts
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- This drug comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time this drug is refilled. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
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