Cancer Home > What Is Clofarabine Used For?

If you have a certain type of cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, you may receive clofarabine. This prescription drug works by interrupting the multiplication process of cancer cells. It is approved only for use in children age 1 to 21 years old. However, there may be times when it is prescribed to treat cancer in adults, although this is an unapproved clofarabine use.


An Overview of Uses for Clofarabine

Clofarabine (Clolar®) is a prescription chemotherapy medication approved to treat children and young adults age 1 to 21 years old with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Relapsed ALL is a disease that has gotten worse after a period of improvement. Refractory ALL is ALL that has not responded to other treatment. Clofarabine is used after at least two other treatment regimens were tried but did not work adequately.
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells. Normally, the bone marrow (the soft, spongy interior of certain bones) produces blood cells in a controlled manner. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow makes too many abnormal white blood cells, called leukemia cells.
There are several different types of leukemia. In general, they are named by how quickly the disease develops and becomes worse (acute versus chronic) and the type of blood cell affected (lymphoid versus myeloid). Acute leukemia progresses rapidly, while chronic leukemia advances more slowly.
With acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a large amount of abnormal lymphoblasts (immature lymphocytes) are made by the bone marrow. These abnormal lymphoblasts do not function properly and cannot fight infection well.
In addition, as the number of lymphoblasts accumulates in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may cause infections, anemia, and easy bleeding.
ALL is the most common type of leukemia in children. It is also sometimes referred to as acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Several types of treatment options are available for people with ALL. The condition is normally treated with chemotherapy. Treatment may also include radiation therapy and stem cell transplant (see Childhood ALL Treatment for more information on treatment options).
Clofarabine is a type of chemotherapy medicine used for the treatment of ALL. As mentioned previously, it is reserved for use when ALL has returned or has not adequately responded to other treatments. While the drug is not a cure for ALL, it may help children with the disease achieve remission after other treatments have failed.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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