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Interferon alpha| is a protein normally produced by the body during viral infections, such as flu. It may occasionally be given in the chronic phase of CML if other treatments haven’t worked.
Interferon alpha is given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously) using a very fine needle. The injections are slightly uncomfortable. You or a relative or friend can be taught how to give these injections so they can be done at home.
Interferon alpha can cause various side effects. Some are similar to the symptoms of flu. They include:
Some of these side effects can be reduced by taking a mild painkiller|, such as paracetamol, before the injection. Your doctor can give you further advice. The side effects are most noticeable with the first one or two injections, and usually wear off after that. However, the tiredness may continue.
Content last reviewed: 1 February 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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