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Other drug names: A-Am An-Az B C-Ch Ci-Cz D-Dh Di-Dz E F G H I-J K-L M-Mh Mi-Mz N-Nh Ni-Nz O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q-R S-Sn So-Sz T-To Tp-Tz U-V W-Z 0-9   


About your treatment

Your doctor has ordered the drug asparaginase to help treat your illness. The drug is given by injection into a large muscle or a vein.

This medication is used in combination with other chemotherapy to treat:

  • acute lymphocytic leukemia

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Asparaginase resembles normal cell nutrients needed by cancer cells to grow. The cancer cells take up asparaginase, which then interferes with their growth. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.

Other uses for this medicine

Asparaginase also is used to treat the blast crisis phase of chronic myelogeous (myelocytic, myeloid) leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.


Before taking asparaginase,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to asparaginase or any other drugs.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially aspirin, methotrexate (Rheumatrex, MTX), and vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver, kidney, or pancreatic disease.
  • you should know that asparaginase may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should tell their doctor before they begin taking this drug. You should not plan to have children while receiving chemotherapy or for a while after treatments. (Talk to your doctor for further details.) Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Asparaginase may harm the fetus.
  • do not have any vaccinations (e.g., measles or flu shots) without talking to your doctor.

Side effects

Side effects from asparaginase are common and include:

  • mild nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • tiredness
  • confusion
  • restlessness or agitation
  • headache

Tell your doctor if either of these symptoms is severe or lasts for several hours:

  • fever with or without chills
  • dizziness

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • swelling of the feet or ankles
  • stomach pain
  • difficult or frequent urination
  • constant thirst
  • sore throat

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Special instructions

  • The most common side effect is an allergic reaction (rash, itching, and difficulty breathing) during the treatment. If necessary, the drug can be discontinued and medications given to counteract the effects. To see if you will have an allergic reaction, you will probably receive a small dose as a skin test before receiving your first dose of asparaginase and whenever more than 1 week passes between treatments.
  • Another common side effect of asparaginase is a decrease of blood cells. Your doctor may order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by the drug.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT