Drink plenty of water after taking hydroxycarbamide.
Keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. You will need to have regular blood tests.If you think you are getting an infection or if you have a high temperature, see your doctor straightaway.
|Type of medicine||Antineoplastic medicine|
|Used for||Some cancers and in sickle cell disease|
|Available as||Hydrea® capsules and Siklos® tablets|
Hydroxycarbamide is used mainly to treat a type of cancer of the blood known as chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). It is sometimes also used to treat cancer of the cervix alongside other treatments. In cancer, cells grow and multiply too quickly. Hydroxycarbamide helps to reduce the number and growth of cancer cells.
Hydroxycarbamide is also given for painful conditions associated with sickle cell disease. In this condition, red blood cells have a tendency to go out of shape and can then block blood vessels, causing pain. Hydroxycarbamide can help to reduce these episodes of pain by helping to prevent the blood cells from going out of shape.
If you are taking hydroxycarbamide as a treatment for cancer, you will be prescribed Hydrea® capsules. If it is for sickle cell disease, you will be given Siklos® tablets. Each time you collect a new supply, make sure it is the same brand as you have had before.
Before taking hydroxycarbamide
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking hydroxycarbamide it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have liver or kidney problems.
- If you have leg ulcers.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take hydroxycarbamide
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the specific brand of hydroxycarbamide you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Hydroxycarbamide will be given to you by a specialist doctor who is experienced in treating your condition. Your doctor will calculate what dose is right for you, and will tell you how much to take and when to take it. You may be asked to take it each day, or every third day. Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you, but if you are unsure about what to do, or if you have any other concerns, contact your doctor or hospital clinic for advice.
- If you are taking Hydrea® capsules and you have difficulties swallowing, you can stir the contents of the capsules into a glass of water, and then drink it straightaway. If you do this, be careful not to get the contents of the capsule on your skin. You can take Hydrea® capsules before or after your meals.
- Siklos® tablets should preferably be taken in the morning before breakfast. If you have difficulty swallowing, you can allow the tablet to disintegrate in a little water before swallowing it.
Getting the most from your treatment
- You must try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular blood tests during your treatment with hydroxycarbamide. The blood tests are important as a way of monitoring your treatment, and also to check that your kidneys and liver are working properly.
- Some people who have taken hydroxycarbamide long-term have developed skin cancer. You can reduce the risk of this by protecting your skin from the sun by wearing suitable clothing and using a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
- It is important that you do not get pregnant while you are taking hydroxycarbamide. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.
- While you are taking hydroxycarbamide and for a while after you stop treatment, do not have any immunisations (vaccinations) without talking to your doctor first. Hydroxycarbamide lowers your body's resistance and there is a chance that you may get an infection from some vaccines.
Can hydroxycarbamide cause problems?
Hydroxycarbamide can lower the number of white cells in your blood, increasing the chance of you getting an infection. You should take precautions to reduce the risk of infection, such as avoiding people you know with an infection.
Your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of other unwanted side-effects of hydroxycarbamide treatment. Let your doctor know if you experience any of the following:
|Most common hydroxycarbamide side-effects
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Decreased number of white or red blood cells, or platelets||Let your doctor know if you are getting a sore throat or if you have a high temperature. If you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, contact your doctor straightaway|
|Feeling sick||Stick to simple meals. If this becomes troublesome, let your doctor know, as you can be prescribed an anti-sickness medicine|
|Skin reactions and a sore mouth||Ask your doctor for advice|
|Headache||Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store hydroxycarbamide
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in original containers in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Hydrea® 500 mg Capsules; E. R. Squibb & Sons Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2012.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Siklos® 100 mg and 1000 mg; Nordic Pharma Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2011.
- British National Formulary; 64th Edition (Sep 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London (links to current BNF)
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr John Cox|
|Last Checked: 30/11/2012||Document ID: 3795 Version: 26||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.