Chlorambucil

Brand names of chlorambucil

  • Alti-Chlorambucil
  • Leukeran

Chlorambucil is an anti-neoplastic (a drug slowing down or thwarting the growth as well as spread of malignant cells) belongs to a class of medications known as alkylating agents. This medication is prescribed to patients suffering from different types of cancer. Alkylating agents derive their name from their aptitude to contribute alkyl groups to several electronegative groups according to the conditions prevailing in the cells. In addition, alkylating agents also help to prevent tumors growing by means of transverse-linking guanine bases in DNA double-helix strands. In other words, they stop tumor growth by attacking DNA straightaway. This action of alkylating agents incapacitates the DNA, which losses ability to uncoil and detach. Since it is necessary for the DNA to uncoil and separate for its replication, the cells are no more able to divide.

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Moreover, the alkylating agents also contribute methyl or additional alkyl groups to molecules wherever they do not belong and this, sequentially, slows down the precise utilization by means of base pairing and results in the wrong coding of DNA. Alkylating agents are basically cell cycle-nonspecific and they work according to three dissimilar means which are all achieving similar end results - interruption of DNA function and eventually the death of the cell.

As aforementioned, the drug chlorambucil is prescribed to patients suffering from various forms of cancer, counting Hodgkin's disease (a kind of lymphoma) and specific forms of leukemia or lymphoma (any form of cancer of the lymph nodes). In addition, depending on your doctor, this medication may also be used for treating other types of cancer.

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Chlorambucil works by obstructing the growth of the cancer cells that are ultimately eliminated. As the growth of the regular cells of the body may also be impinged on by chlorambucil, using this medication may also result in other side effects. A number of these side effects may be grave and, hence, it should be immediately brought to the notice of your doctor. However, there may be other side effects that may not be so serious, but may be bothersome. Moreover, some of the side effects may take several months or years to appear after using the medication.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking chlorambucil

As with using any other drug, prior to beginning your therapy with chlorambucil, you ought to take a number of precautions with a view to avoid or lessen the side effects of this medication. Hence, before you start using chlorambucil, talk to your doctor or pharmacist regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you have seizures, have had any head injury, have kidney stones or blood disorders (such as anemia, thrombocytopenia - an unusual decline in the blood platelet count) and/ or neutropenia (an irregular reduction in the number of neutrophils in the blood), and/ or gout. But before that, you ought to tell your doctor if you have any allergic reactions to chlorambucil, any of its ingredients or any other chemotherapy drugs (for instance, cyclophosphamide, busulfan).

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Patients taking chlorambucil should avoid all types of vaccinations or immunization without prior consultation with their doctor. In addition, they should also keep away from people who have been given oral polio vaccine very recently. In addition, such people should also exercise caution while using sharp objects, such as nail cutters and/ or razors. They should also keep away from any type of contact sports to diminish the risks of getting injured, bruised or cut.

It may be noted that children receiving this drug should be additionally cautious, as they are more susceptible to the side effects of chlorambucil, especially it may result in infertility at a later period in their life. In addition, children having kidney ailments, such as nephritic syndrome, and using chlorambucil are likely to be more exposed to the hazards of seizures.

Women who are pregnant should never use chlorambucil, as it has a tendency to cause harm to the fetus. In addition men as well as women of childbearing age ought to use dependable birth control measures during sexual activities while they are taking chlorambucil. It is advisable that you consult your doctor regarding the use and risks of taking this anti-cancer medication.

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While it is still unknown if chlorambucil passes onto breast milk, it is advisable that nursing mothers should either not take this medication or not breast feed. They also need to consult their doctor before they start therapy with chlorambucil.

Usage

Chlorambucil, an alkylating agent, is basically used to treat a number of forms of cancer, particularly lymphoma (a form of cancer of the lymph nodes). Precisely speaking, this mediation is prescribed to patients enduring chronic lymphocytic leukemia (a form of leukemia caused due to excessive production as well as anomalous formation of specific white blood cells that are vital for maintaining the immune system of the body) as well as Hodgkin's disease (a form of cancer that has an impact on the lymphatic system and is marked by painless distension of the lymph nodes).

Here is a word of caution. Therapy with chlorambucil is likely to produce a number of grave side effects. While this medication is used for various types of cancer, it has the aptitude to enhance the patient's risk of developing a different form of cancer. For instance, chlorambucil has the potential to reduce the function of your bone marrow, diminish your body's competence to combat any infection and so on. When you are taking chlorambucil it is necessary to straightaway tell your doctor if your glands are swelling, if you notice any indication of any infection (for instance, chills, fever, chronic tender throat or cough), if you experience any abnormal growths or lumps or exceptional exhaustion, and/ or any abnormal or painless hemorrhage/ bruising. Before you start using chlorambucil, it is important for you to consult your doctor regarding the benefits and risks of using the medication.

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In addition, taking chlorambucil has the potential to impair the genes or chromosomes as well as result in birth defects. This medication may also result in infertility or sterility (inability to have children) among men and women. Hence, discuss the benefits and risks of taking chlorambucil with your doctor before you start taking the medication.

How to use chlorambucil

Chlorambucil is an oral medication and should be taken strictly according to your doctor's instructions. People taking this medication should drink plenty of water, unless they are suggested otherwise by the doctor. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to prevent the side effects of this medication. The dosage of chlorambucil is solely dependent on the patient's medical condition, body weight as well as his/ her response to therapy. It is warned that you should never raise the dosage of this medication or take it more frequently than what has been advised by your doctor. Always consult your doctor before changing the dose or its frequency. Taking an overdose or taking the medication more often will not facilitate in improving your condition or curing you faster. Instead, it will only increase the risks of your side effects from using this medication. It is advisable that pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant ought not handle or break the chlorambucil tablets, as this medication can be soaked in by the skin.

As mentioned above, it is essential that you take every schedule dosage of chlorambucil strictly as advised by your doctor. In case you miss a dose of the medication, get in touch with your doctor as soon as you remember to set up a new dosing schedule. Never ever take a double dose of this medication with a view to make up for a missed dosage, for this will only aggravate the side effects of using chlorambucil.

How chlorambucil works

Chlorambucil belongs to a class of medications known as alkylating agents, which help to kill the cancer cells in the body. This medication works by obstructing the actions of the genetic material (DNA) of the cancer cells, thereby thwarting the cells from replication. In effect, using chlorambucil may also have an adverse effect on the normal cells of the body causing undesirable side effects.

Side effects

Serious
  • blood-tinged (pink or maroon) urine or stools
  • black or tarry stools
  • fever
  • painful, difficult urination
  • easy bruising
  • small, red spots on the skin
  • shortness of breath
  • lower back pain or pain in flanks
  • bleeding from gums, nose, or other unusual places
  • chills
  • cough or hoarseness
Common
Less common

Possible interactions

As with any other drug, chlorambucil is known to interact with a number of medicines, especially herbal products and minerals and, hence, they should not be taken concurrently. A number of patients generally use the herb Echinacea with a view to perk up their immune systems. However, it is really unfortunate that using Echinacea is not advisable in people who have an impaired immune system. In effect, this particular herb may also precisely deteriorate any immune system if it is taken too frequently or for a prolonged period.

People taking chlorambucil should avoid consuming alcoholic beverages. Especially people with poor platelet count should avoid alcohol as this may enhance the hazards of hemorrhage in the stomach. Similarly, smoking marijuana also enhances the risk of toxicity of the central nervous system (CNS). When the immune system is weak or impaired, the patient may contract a number of fungal infections from smoking marijuana.

Discontinuation

It is advisable not to stop taking chlorambucil all of a sudden. In effect, several factors are responsible for deciding the time and manner to discontinue taking this medication. In order to obtain the utmost benefits of using chlorambucil, it is important that you consult your doctor before you stop taking this medication.

Storage instructions

Chlorambucil should always be stored in the same container the medicine came in. The container should be closed tightly and kept in a place that is beyond the reach of children and pets. Although it is advisable to store chlorambucil in the refrigerator, you ought to ensure that the medicine does not freeze. When the medication becomes outdated or is no longer needed, discard it properly and in a safe manner. If required, you may talk to your pharmacist or the disposal firm in your neighbourhood to find the most appropriate and safe way to dispose of the medication.

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