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Dasatinib, which is also known as Sprycel®, is a drug that may be used to treat some people with chronic myeloid leukaemia| (CML). It can also be used to treat some adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia| (ALL).
You'll see your doctor regularly while you have this treatment so they can monitor its effects. This section should help you discuss any queries about your treatment and its side effects with your doctor or specialist nurse.
Dasatinib is a type of treatment called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Kinases are important proteins in the body that regulate how cells grow and divide.
Dasatinib works by blocking (inhibiting) signals within the leukaemia cells that make them grow and divide. Blocking the signals causes the cells to die.
Dasatinib is licensed as a treatment for people with:
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently gives advice on which new drugs or treatments should be available on the NHS in England and Wales. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) makes recommendations on the use of new drugs within the NHS in Scotland. NICE has not recommended the use of dasatinib. The SMC has recommended its use for people with CML but does not recommend it as a treatment for people with ALL.
If dasatinib isn’t recommended for you, it may not be available on the NHS, although you may be given it as part of a clinical trial. We have more information on what you can do if a treatment isn’t available.
Each person’s reaction to dasatinib is different. Some people have very few side effects while others may experience more. The side effects described here won't affect everyone having this treatment.
We have outlined the most common side effects but haven't included those that are rare and therefore unlikely to affect you. If you notice any effects that aren't listed here, discuss them with your doctor or specialist nurse.
The side effects of dasatinib are generally mild or moderate and usually stop once treatment finishes. However, sometimes more serious problems can occur. Side effects are most common during the first two months of treatment and may begin to gradually disappear after this.
However, late side effects can occur. Tell your doctor if any side effects continue or are troublesome.
This can affect different parts of your body. Most commonly it causes swelling of the ankles or swelling around the eyes. Fluid retention often settles without treatment, but if it doesn't, drugs that make you pass more urine (diuretics) can help get rid of some of the fluid.
A short course of steroids may also be helpful. Sometimes fluid may collect in the lining of the lungs (pleural effusion|). Rarely, it may collect in the abdominal space (ascites|) or in the sac around the heart (pericardial effusion).
Tell your doctor straight away if you develop a cough, chest pain, feel more breathless than usual or if you gain weight suddenly.
A small number of people may notice a change in their heart rhythm. Heartbeats may become less regular or the heart may feel as if it's beating too fast. If you notice any changes in your heart rhythm, tell your doctor immediately.
It’s important to let your doctor know straight away if you feel unwell or have any severe side effects, even if they’re not mentioned above.
It's important to let your doctor know straight away if you feel unwell or have any severe side effects, even if they're not mentioned above.
Some medicines, including those that you can buy in a shop or chemist, can be harmful to take when you’re taking dasatinib. Tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, complementary therapie|s and herbal drugs|.
Your ability to become pregnant or father a child may be affected by having this treatment. It's important to discuss fertility| with your doctor before starting treatment.
Little is known about the effects of dasatinib on a developing baby. Therefore, it is not advisable to become pregnant or father a child while taking this drug.
It’s not known whether dasatinib is present in semen or vaginal fluids. To protect your partner it’s safest to either avoid sex or use a barrier form of contraception for about 48 hours after treatment.
There is a potential risk that dasatinib may be present in breast milk so women are advised not to breastfeed during imatinib and for a few months afterwards.
If you’re admitted to hospital for a reason not related to the cancer, it’s important to tell the doctors and nurses looking after you that you are having dasatinib treatment. You should tell them the name of your cancer specialist so that they can ask for advice.
It’s a good idea to know who you should contact if you have any problems or troublesome side effects when you’re at home. During office hours you can contact the clinic or ward where you had your treatment. Your specialist nurse or doctor will tell you who to contact during the evening or at weekends.
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2013
Next planned review: 2015
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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