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Pentostatin Side Effects

Common Side Effects

Pentostatin has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people given pentostatin were carefully documented and compared with reactions that occurred in a similar group of people given another chemotherapy medicine. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the other medicine.
In clinical studies, the most common pentostatin side effects included:
  • Nausea and/or vomiting -- in up to 63 percent of people
  • Low white blood cell counts, which could increase the risk for infections (see Chemotherapy and Infections) -- up to 60 percent
  • Fever -- up to 46 percent
  • Rash -- up to 43 percent
  • Fatigue -- up to 42 percent
  • Infections -- up to 36 percent
  • Anemia (low red blood cells) -- up to 35 percent (see Chemotherapy and Anemia)
  • A decrease in platelets, which could increase the risk for bleeding (see Blood Clotting Problems and Chemotherapy) -- up to 32 percent
  • Itching -- up to 21 percent
  • Coughing -- up to 20 percent
  • Pain -- up to 20 percent.
Other common reactions, occurring in 1 percent to 19 percent of people, included:
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Upper respiratory tract infection, such as the common cold
  • Lack of strength or energy
  • Sores and inflammation of the mouth and throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Increased sweating
  • Joint pain
  • Skin problems, such as a rash, dry skin, acne, or skin discoloration
  • Increased liver enzymes, which could be a sign of liver problems
  • Nervous system problems, which may include but are not limited to:
    • Confusion
    • Muscle weakness
    • Tingling of the hands or feet
    • Problems with memory.
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