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What Is Pentostatin Used For?

How Does This Medicine 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.

Can Children Use Pentostatin?

Pentostatin is not approved for use in children (usually defined as individuals younger than 18 years old), as it has not been adequately studied in them. However, it may sometimes be used off-label to treat certain conditions in children. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medication in children.

Is It Safe for Older Adults to Use It?

Pentostatin has not been adequately studied in older adults, so it is unknown whether older adults will respond differently to the medication than younger age groups. Because kidney function tends to decline with age, older adults may have decreased kidney function. People with reduced kidney function may have a higher risk for developing pentostatin side effects and may need lower doses.

What About Off-Label Uses?

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medication for treating something other than hairy cell leukemia. This is called an "off-label" use. Pentostatin may sometimes be used off-label to treat the following conditions:
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Pentostatin Drug Information

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