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Precautions and Warnings With Pentostatin

To ensure a safe treatment with pentostatin, your healthcare provider will ask if you have any problems with your kidneys, liver, or lungs. This chemotherapy treatment has been reported to cause a number of serious complications, including life-threatening side effects and dangerously low blood cell counts. More safety precautions are in place to help provide warnings for people who should avoid this drug.


What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving pentostatin (Nipent®) 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:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Pentostatin Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving this medication include the following:
  • Pentostatin can cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. It should only be given under the supervision of a healthcare provider with experience prescribing chemotherapy medicines.
  • Pentostatin should only be used at the recommended doses. Higher amounts may increase the risk for severe lung, kidney, liver, and nervous system side effects.
  • This medicine may cause abnormally low blood cell counts, including low white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, which could increase your risk for life-threatening infections, anemia, and bleeding problems. Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood cell counts frequently, especially in the beginning of treatment when the risk appears to be highest.
Click the following articles to learn more about these potential side effects, as well as possible symptoms you should report immediately to your healthcare provider:
  • If you currently have an infection of any kind, your healthcare provider may choose to delay pentostatin treatment until your infection is adequately under control. This medication could make your infection worse.
  • Pentostatin has been reported to increase liver enzymes, which could be a sign of liver problems. This side effect is generally reversible once treatment is stopped.
  • Pentostatin may cause kidney damage, especially when used in doses higher than the normally recommended amount. If kidney problems occur at recommended doses, they are usually minor and reversible.
  • There have been reports of severe rashes occurring in people treated with pentostatin. Rashes associated with its use may worsen if treatment continues. If you develop a rash, you may need to stop treatment until your rash improves.
  • This medication may cause nervous system toxicity (the nervous system includes the brain, nerves, and spinal cord). Your healthcare provider may recommend you stop pentostatin to prevent serious problems. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience signs of nervous system problems, such as:
    • Confusion
    • Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet
    • Problems with coordination
    • Weakness.
  • Your healthcare provider will order blood tests and other tests to monitor your response to this medication, and monitor you for potentially serious side effects. Make sure to keep all of your laboratory and other healthcare appointments during treatment.
  • Pentostatin is a pregnancy Category D medication, which means it may harm an unborn child if used during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medication when pregnant (see Nipent and Pregnancy).
  • It is unknown whether pentostatin passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to receiving the drug (see Nipent and Breastfeeding).
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Pentostatin Drug Information

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