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ATRA is given alongside chemotherapy| to people with a type of AML called acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL)|. It works by making the leukaemia cells| mature.
ATRA is also known as tretinoin (Vesanoid®). It’s available as a capsule that is taken by mouth, with food. It’s based on the natural substance vitamin A and is not a chemotherapy drug. However, it does have some side effects, which can include:
It’s important not to become pregnant or father a child while taking ATRA, as it may harm the developing baby. It’s important to use effective contraception while taking this drug, and for at least a few months afterwards. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you.
If you’re already pregnant, ATRA shouldn’t be given if you’re less than 12 weeks pregnant. After 12 weeks, it can be given safely. It’s usually given without chemotherapy, as this is safer for the baby and still effective.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2013
Next planned review: 2015
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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