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Pentostatin

Important Information for Your Healthcare Provider

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving this medication if you have:
 
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
  • Lung disease
  • Plans to receive a vaccination
  • An infection of any kind
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
 
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
   
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Pentostatin to learn more, including information on who should not use the drug.)
 

How Does It Work?

Pentostatin works by blocking the action of adenosine deaminase, a naturally occurring enzyme in the body. Adenosine deaminase breaks down deoxyadenosine triphosphate (or simply dATP), a natural compound in the body that can be toxic to cells. When adenosine deaminase is blocked by pentostatin, dATP levels rise in T-cells and B-cells (types of white blood cells), including the abnormal B-cells associated with hairy cell leukemia.
 
The high level of dATP is toxic to the leukemia cancer cells and prevents DNA in the cells from copying itself. Because DNA must replicate to divide, pentostatin slows down the growth of cancer cells and may even cause the cancer cells to die.
 
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