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All about: altretamine

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Generic Name: altretamine (all TREH tah mean)
Brand Names: Hexalen

What is altretamine?

Altretamine is a cancer (antineoplastic) medication. Altretamine interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Altretamine is used to treat cancer of the ovaries.

Altretamine may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about altretamine?

Altretamine should only be administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents.

Serious side effects have been reported with the use of altretamine including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; fever or chills; or signs of infection such as fever; chills, or sore throat); neurologic problems (mood disorders, altered consciousness, weakness, dizziness, vertigo); and others. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment with altretamine.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking altretamine?

Before taking altretamine, tell your doctor if you have:

  • any nervous system (brain and nerves) problems; or

  • bone marrow problems.

You may not be able to take altretamine, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Altretamine is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that altretamine is known to cause birth defects in an unborn baby. Do not take altretamine without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. Contraceptive measures are recommended during treatment with altretamine. It is not known whether altretamine passes into breast milk. Do not take altretamine without first talking to your doctor if you are breast feeding a baby.

How should I take altretamine?

Take altretamine exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these instructions, as your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to explain them to you.

Your doctor will determine the correct amount and frequency of treatment with altretamine depending upon the cancer being treated and other factors. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding the treatment schedule.

Altretamine is usually taken four times a day, after meals and at bedtime.

Take each oral dose with a large glass of water.

Your doctor will probably want you to have regularly scheduled blood tests and other medical evaluations during treatment with altretamine to monitor progress and side effects.

Store altretamine capsules at room temperature away from heat and moisture. Keep this product out of the reach of children.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss a dose of altretamine.

What happens if I overdose?

If for any reason an overdose of altretamine is suspected, seek emergency medical attention or contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Symptoms of an altretamine overdose tend to be similar to side effects caused by the medication, although often more severe.

What should I avoid while taking altretamine?

Altretamine can lower the activity of your immune system making you susceptible to infections. Avoid contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses and do not receive vaccines that contain live strains of a virus (e.g., live oral polio vaccine) during treatment with altretamine. In addition, avoid contact with individuals who have recently been vaccinated with a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus can be passed on to you.

Altretamine side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
  • an allergic reaction (shortness of breath; closing of your throat; difficulty breathing; swelling of your lips, face, or tongue; or hives);

  • decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; or fever, chills, or signs of infection);

  • pain, tremors, tingling, burning, or prickling in hands or feet;

  • mood changes;

  • severe drowsiness or loss of consciousness;

  • loss of coordination, weakness, dizziness, unsteadiness or falling; or

  • severe nausea or vomiting.

Other less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • temporary hair loss;

  • itching or rash; or

  • mild to moderate nausea or vomiting.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect altretamine?

Before taking altretamine, tell your doctor if you are taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). You may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment if you are taking one of these medicines.

Before taking altretamine, tell your doctor if you are taking cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB). You may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment.

Do not receive "live" vaccines during treatment with altretamine. Administration of a live vaccine may be dangerous during treatment with altretamine.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with altretamine. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including herbal products, during treatment with altretamine.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about altretamine written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Altretamine is available with a prescription under the brand name Hexalen. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Hexalen 50 mg-clear capsules

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01. Revision Date: 4/1/05 5:03:41 PM.

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