Cancer Home > Cladribine

Cladribine is a medicine used for slowing down the growth of a certain type of cancer known as hairy cell leukemia. This chemotherapy drug comes as a liquid that is injected slowly into a vein continuously for seven days. It works by interfering with the way DNA replicates. Side effects may include anemia, fatigue, and low white blood cell counts.

What Is Cladribine?

Cladribine (Leustatin®) is a prescription medication approved to treat a type of leukemia known as hairy cell leukemia. Hairy cell leukemia is a rare cancer that affects a certain type of white blood cell. Cladribine belongs to a group of medicines known as purine analogs. It is also sometimes referred to as 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine, or simply 2-CdA.
(Click What Is Cladribine Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Are There Side Effects?

Just like any chemotherapy medicine, cladribine can cause side effects, some of which can be significant and potentially serious. In fact, many people will experience some type of side effect during treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to prevent or lessen reactions to this drug.
Common side effects of cladribine include but are not limited to:
  • Low white blood cell counts
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Infection.
(Click Cladribine Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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