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Precautions and Warnings With Altretamine

Although altretamine can be an effective form of chemotherapy for some people, it may increase the risk for problems with the nervous system, bone marrow depression, or other potentially serious complications. This medicine may not be safe for people who have a history of seizures or those with kidney or liver disease. Precautions and warnings with altretamine also apply to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking altretamine (Hexalen®) if you have:
 
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
  • Had severe bone marrow depression (very low red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets)
  • Nerve damage or a disorder of the nervous system
  • Ever had a seizure
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
 
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
 
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Altretamine Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this medication include the following:
 
  • Altretamine can cause significant side effects. It should only be given by a healthcare provider who has experience using chemotherapy medications. Your healthcare provider will weigh the risks and benefits of using this medicine before recommending treatment.
 
  • You will need blood tests and other monitoring at least monthly during treatment to make sure you are not developing potentially serious side effects, such as low blood cell counts and brain and nerve problems. Make sure to keep all of your healthcare and laboratory appointments.
 
Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood cell counts during treatment, and adjust your dose or delay treatment if your blood cell counts become too low.
 
  • Let your healthcare provider know if you are taking altretamine and experience any nervous system problems, such as:
    • Numbness or tingling sensations in the hands and feet
    • Problems with coordination
    • Mood changes
    • Confusion
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Spinning or whirling sensations.
 
  • Medications similar to altretamine have been shown to increase the risk for developing other cancers. There have been reports of people developing other types of cancer, including leukemia, after long-term altretamine treatment.
   
  • It is unknown if altretamine passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Hexalen and Breastfeeding).
 
  • Altretamine is a pregnancy Category D medication, which means it is probably not safe for use during pregnancy (see Hexalen and Pregnancy).
 
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Altretamine Drug Information

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