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All about: arsenic trioxide

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Generic Name: arsenic trioxide (ARE seh nick try OCK side)
Brand Names: Trisenox

What is arsenic trioxide?

Arsenic trioxide is a cancer medication. Arsenic trioxide interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Arsenic trioxide is used in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).

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

What is the most important information I should know about arsenic trioxide?

Arsenic trioxide 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 arsenic trioxide including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) differentiation syndrome (fever, shortness of breath, weight gain, and lung problems); heart problems; and others. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment with arsenic trioxide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking arsenic trioxide?

Serious side effects have been reported with the use of arsenic trioxide including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) differentiation syndrome (fever, shortness of breath, weight gain, and lung problems); heart problems; and others. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment with arsenic trioxide.

Do not use arsenic trioxide without first talking to your doctor if you have
  • heart disease (especially irregular heartbeats or a long QT interval);

  • liver disease; or
  • kidney disease.

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

Arsenic trioxide is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that it is known to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use arsenic trioxide without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. Arsenic trioxide passes into breast milk and may be harmful to a nursing baby. Do not take arsenic trioxide without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I use arsenic trioxide?

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

Arsenic trioxide is administered intravenously.

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

Your doctor may want you to have blood tests or other medical evaluations before starting and periodically during treatment with arsenic trioxide to monitor progress and side effects.

Your healthcare provider will store arsenic trioxide as directed by the manufacturer. If you are storing arsenic trioxide at home, follow the directions provided by your healthcare provider.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss a dose of arsenic trioxide.

What happens if I overdose?

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

Symptoms of a arsenic trioxide overdose may include muscle weakness, confusion, and convulsions.

What should I avoid while using arsenic trioxide?

Other drugs that affect the way the heart beats may interact with arsenic trioxide and increase the risk of dangerous irregular heartbeats. Do not take any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, including herbal products, during treatment with arsenic trioxide without first talking to your doctor.

Arsenic trioxide side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects from arsenic trioxide, contact your doctor immediately:

  • an allergic reaction (including difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

  • acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) differentiation syndrome (fever, shortness of breath, weight gain, and lung problems); or

  • fainting or irregular heart beats.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue taking arsenic trioxide and talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • fever;

  • tiredness or weakness;

  • swelling or fluid retention;

  • pain, redness or swelling at the injection site;

  • nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite;

  • diarrhea or loose stools;

  • constipation;

  • headache or dizziness;

  • insomnia;

  • numbness or tingling; or

  • rash or skin problems.

Other side effects have also been reported. Discuss with your doctor any side effect that occurs during treatment with arsenic trioxide.

What other drugs will affect arsenic trioxide?

Other drugs that affect the way the heart beats may interact with arsenic trioxide and increase the risk of dangerous irregular heartbeats. Do not take any other prescription or over-the-counter medications, including herbal products, during treatment with arsenic trioxide without first talking to your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your healthcare provider may have additional information about arsenic trioxide that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

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

  • 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: 2.04. Revision Date: 7/21/04 4:18:03 PM.

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