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All about: dactinomycin

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Generic Name: dactinomycin (dac tih no MY sin)
Brand Names: Cosmegen

What is dactinomycin?

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

Dactinomycin is used to treat Wilm's tumor, childhood rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma, and testicular cancer. Dactinomycin is also used in the treatment of gestational trophoblastic neoplasia and in the treatment of locally recurrent solid malignancies.

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

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

Dactinomycin 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 dactinomycin 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; increased susceptibility to infection; slow wound healing; easy bruising or bleeding; sore throat, fever, chills, or signs of infection); abdominal pain or black, bloody, or tarry stools; severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and mouth sores; and others. Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects from treatment with dactinomycin.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using dactinomycin?

Do not use dactinomycin without first talking to your doctor if you have:
  • recently had chickenpox (varicella) or shingles (herpes zoster);

  • any other type of infection; or

  • decreased bone marrow function.

The use of dactinomycin may be dangerous if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Dactinomycin is in the FDA pregnancy category D. This means that dactinomycin is known to be harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use dactinomycin without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant. Discuss with your doctor the appropriate use of birth control during treatment with dactinomycin if necessary. It is not know whether dactinomycin passes into breast milk. Breast feeding should be avoided during treatment with dactinomycin.

How should I use dactinomycin?

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

Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you notice redness, pain, or swelling at the place of injection or anywhere else on your skin.

Your doctor will determine the correct amount and frequency of treatment with dactinomycin 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 will probably want you to have regularly scheduled blood tests and other medical evaluations during treatment with dactinomycin to monitor progress and side effects.

Dactinomycin is extremely corrosive to the skin if contact occurs. If you are storing or injection dactinomycin at home, avoid contact with the medication. If contact accidentally occurs, rinse the skin with water for at least 15 minutes and seek emergency medical attention.

Your healthcare provider will store dactinomycin as directed by the manufacturer. If you are storing dactinomycin 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 dactinomycin.

What happens if I overdose?

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

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

What should I avoid while using dactinomycin?

Dactinomycin 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 dactinomycin. 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.

Dactinomycin is extremely corrosive to the skin if contact occurs. If you are storing or injection dactinomycin at home, avoid contact with the medication. If contact accidentally occurs, rinse the skin with water for at least 15 minutes and seek emergency medical attention.

Dactinomycin side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects from dactinomycin, seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:

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

  • decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; increased susceptibility to infection; slow wound healing; easy bruising or bleeding; or sore throat, fever, chills, or signs of infection);

  • abdominal pain or black, bloody, or tarry stools;

  • sore mouth (inflamation and sores on the lips or inside the mouth);

  • severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite; or

  • redness, pain, or swelling at the place of injection or anywhere else on your skin.

In some cases, second malignancies have been reported to occur during and following treatment with dactinomycin. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of this medication.

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

  • hair loss;

  • fatigue;

  • mild to moderate nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite; or

  • skin eruptions, acne, or a flare-up of skin redness or increased color of the skin where radiation treatments were done.

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

What other drugs will affect dactinomycin?

Other medications may interact with dactinomycin. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including herbal products, during treatment with dactinomycin.

Where can I get more information?

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

What does my medication look like?

Dactinomycin is available with a prescription under the brand name Cosmegen. 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: 1.04. Revision Date: 2/13/04 3:59:04 PM.

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