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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   



Cytarabine can cause a decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow. Your doctor will order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by this drug.

About your treatment

Your doctor has ordered the drug cytarabine to help treat your illness. The drug can be given by injection into a vein or under the skin of your forearm. In special situations, it may be injected into the spinal cord.

This medication is used to treat:

  • certain types of leukemias

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

Cytarabine belongs to a group of drugs known as antimetabolites. It resembles a normal cell nutrient needed by cancer cells to grow. The cancer cells take up cytarabine, which then interferes with their growth.

Other uses for this medicine

Cytarabine also is used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.


Before taking cytarabine,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to cytarabine or any other drugs.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially aminoglycoside antibiotics such as amikacin, gentamicin, netilmicin, and tobramycin; aspirin; digoxin (Lanoxin); flucytosine; and vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease, liver disease, or gout.
  • you should know that cytarabine 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 doctors 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. Cytarabine 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 cytarabine are common and include:

  • thinned or brittle hair
  • headache
  • weakness or achiness
  • loss of appetite or weight
  • tingling in the hands or feet

Tell your doctor if the following symptom is severe or lasts for several hours:

  • fatigue

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

  • painful urination or red urine
  • black, tarry stools
  • diarrhea
  • pain in the abdomen
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • cough
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • nausea and vomiting
  • rash
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • pain in the joints
  • muscle weakness, difficulty walking or writing
  • blurred vision

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.

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