Cancer Home > Cancer and Cladribine

Approved to treat hairy cell leukemia, cladribine (Leustatin®) is prescribed to help slow down the progression of this form of cancer. Cladribine is approved for use when the condition is active, which means a person is experiencing symptoms or has significantly low blood cell counts. This prescription chemotherapy drug is approved for use in adults only.
Cladribine is a type of purine analog and works by preventing DNA from replicating, which is necessary for cancer cells to divide. It also interferes with the ability of DNA to repair itself when it is damaged. These actions can slow down the growth of cancer cells, or even cause the cancer cells to die.
On occasion, a healthcare provider may prescribe cladribine to treat other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, or acute myeloid leukemia; however, these are unapproved ("off-label") uses for the medication.
(Click What Is Cladribine Used For? to learn more about using this anticancer drug to treat hairy cell leukemia.)
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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