Amsacrine (Amsidine®) is used to treat:
It may sometimes be used to treat other cancers. It is best to read this information with our general information about chemotherapy and the type of cancer you have.
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Amsacrine (Amsidine®) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). It may also be used to treat other cancers.
It is best to read this information with our general information about chemotherapy and the type of cancer you have.
Amsacrine is given into a vein. You usually have it during a hospital stay or sometimes as an outpatient. Your cancer doctor or nurse will tell you how often you will have it.
Like all chemotherapy drugs, amsacrine can cause side effects. Some of the side effects can be serious, so it is important to read the detailed information below.
Your healthcare team can give you advice on how to manage any side effects. Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you:
Rarely, side effects may be life-threatening. Your cancer doctor or nurse can explain the risk of these side effects to you.
If you need medical attention for any reason other than cancer, always tell the healthcare staff that you are having this treatment.
You will be given amsacrine in the chemotherapy day unit or during a stay in hospital. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you. Amsacrine can be given in combination with other cancer drugs.
During treatment you usually see a cancer doctor, a chemotherapy nurse or a specialist nurse. This is who we mean when we mention doctor or nurse in this information.
Before or on the day of treatment, a nurse or person trained to take blood (phlebotomist) will take a blood sample from you. This is to check that your blood cells are at a safe level to have chemotherapy.
You will see a doctor or nurse before you have chemotherapy. They will ask you how you have been feeling. If your blood results are okay, the pharmacist will prepare your chemo-therapy. Your nurse will tell you when your treatment is likely to be ready.
Your nurse usually gives you anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs before the chemotherapy. The chemotherapy drugs can be given through:
Your nurse can give you amsacrine as a drip (infusion) into your cannula or line. They usually run the drip through a pump, which gives you the treatment over 60 to 90 minutes.
Amsacrine is usually given as a single course in combination with other chemotherapy drugs over a number of days. The length of your treatment and the number of cycles you have will depend on the type of leukaemia you have.
Your nurse or doctor will discuss your treatment plan with you.
We explain the most common side effects of this treatment here. We also include some less common side effects.
You may get some of the side effects we mention, but you are unlikely to get all of them.
If you are also having treatment with other cancer drugs, you may have some side effects that we haven’t listed here.
Always tell your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about any side effects you have.
Your doctor can give you drugs to help control some side effects.
It is important to take them exactly as your nurse or pharmacist explains. This means they will be more likely to work for you.
Your nurse will give you advice about managing your side effects.
After your treatment is over, most side effects start to improve.
Some cancer treatments can cause severe side effects. Rarely, these may be life-threatening. Your cancer doctor or nurse can explain the risk of these side effects to you.
Your nurse will give you telephone numbers for the hospital. If you feel unwell or need advice, you can call them at any time of the day or night.
Save these numbers in your phone or keep them somewhere safe.
We cannot list every side effect for this treatment. There are some rare side effects that are not listed. You can visit the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) for more detailed information.
Some people may have side effects while they are being given the chemotherapy or shortly after they have it:
If this happens, it can damage the tissue around the vein. This is called extravasation. Extravasation is not common, but if it happens it is important that it is dealt with quickly. Tell your nurse straight away if you have any stinging, pain, redness or swelling around the vein.
If you get any of these symptoms after you get home, contact the doctor or nurse straight away. You should use the number they gave you.
This treatment can reduce the number of white blood cells in your blood. These cells fight infection.
If the number of white blood cells is low, you are more likely to get an infection. A low white blood cell count is called neutropenia.
If you have an infection, it is important to treat it as soon as possible.
Contact the hospital straight away on the 24-hour contact number you have if:
Symptoms of an infection include:
It is important to follow any specific advice your cancer treatment team gives you.
The number of white blood cells will usually return to normal before your next treatment.
You will have a blood test before having more treatment. If your white blood cell count is low, your doctor may delay your treatment for a short time.
Chemotherapy can reduce the number of platelets in your blood. Platelets are cells that help the blood to clot. Tell your doctor if you have any bruising or bleeding that you can’t explain. This includes:
Some people may need a drip to give them extra platelets. This is called a platelet transfusion.
This treatment can reduce the number of red blood cells in your blood. These cells carry oxygen around the body.
If the number of red blood cells is low, you may be tired and breathless. Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel like this.
If you are very anaemic, you may need a drip to give you extra red blood cells. This is called a blood transfusion.
You may feel sick in the first few days after this treatment. Your doctor will give you anti-sickness drugs to help prevent or control sickness. Take the drugs exactly as your nurse or pharmacist tells you.
It is easier to prevent sickness than to treat it after it has started.
If you feel sick, take small sips of fluids and eat small amounts often.
If you continue to feel sick, or if you vomit more than once in 24 hours, contact the hospital as soon as possible. They will give you advice and may change the anti-sickness drug to one that works better for you.
Your urine may be an orange colour for up to 48 hours after you have had your treatment. This is because of the colour of the amsacrine. It is nothing to worry about.
Feeling tired is a common side effect. It is often worse towards the end of treatment and for some weeks after it has finished.
Try to pace yourself and plan your day so you have time to rest.
Gentle exercise, like short walks, can give you more energy.
If you feel sleepy, do not drive or operate machinery.
Your hair will get thinner or you may lose all the hair from your head. You may also lose your eyelashes, eyebrows or other body hair. Hair loss usually starts after your first or second treatment.
Your nurse can talk to you about ways to cope with hair loss. There are ways to cover up hair loss if you want to. It is important to cover your head to protect your scalp when you are out in the sun.
Hair loss is almost always temporary and your hair will usually grow back after treatment ends.
You may get a sore mouth or mouth ulcers. This can make you more likely to get a mouth infection.
Use a soft toothbrush to clean your teeth or dentures in the morning, at night and after meals.
If your mouth is sore:
Let your doctor know if you develop any pain in your tummy (abdomen). It can usually be controlled with mild painkillers.
If you have diarrhoea, contact the hospital for advice. Try to drink at least 2 litres (3½ pints) of fluids every day. It can help to avoid alcohol, caffeine, milk products, high-fat foods and high-fibre foods.
This treatment can affect how your kidneys and liver work. This is usually mild and goes back to normal after treatment. You will have blood tests to check how well your kidneys and liver are working.
It is important to drink at least two litres (three and a half pints) of fluids each day to help protect your kidneys.
Amsacrine may affect your skin. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what to expect. If your skin feels dry, try using an unperfumed moisturising cream every day. Amsacrine can cause a rash, which may be itchy. Always tell your doctor or nurse about any skin changes. They can give you advice and may prescribe creams or medicines to help. Any changes to your skin are usually temporary and improve when treatment finishes.
This drug may cause the cancer cells to break down quickly. This releases uric acid (a waste product) into the blood. The kidneys usually get rid of uric acid, but may not be able to cope with large amounts. Too much uric acid can cause swelling and pain in the joints. This is called gout.
Your doctor may give you tablets called allopurinol (Zyloric®) to help prevent this. Drinking at least two litres of fluid a day will also help. You will have regular blood tests to check the uric acid levels.
This treatment can affect the way the heart works. You may have tests to see how well your heart is working. These may be done before, during and sometimes after treatment.
If the treatment is causing heart problems, your doctor can change the type of treatment you are having.
Contact a doctor straight away if you:
Other conditions can cause these symptoms, but it is important to get them checked by a doctor.
Rarely, this treatment can cause seizures (fits). Your doctor can prescribe drugs to prevent fits. They will explain more about this.
It is important to tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you feel ill or have severe side effects. This includes any we don’t mention here.
Cancer and some cancer treatments can increase the risk of a blood clot. Symptoms of a blood clot include:
If you have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor straight away.
A blood clot is serious, but can be treated with drugs that thin the blood. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.
Some medicines can affect chemotherapy or be harmful when you are having it. This includes medicines you can buy in a shop or chemist.
Tell your cancer doctor about any drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, complementary therapies and herbal drugs.
Your doctor will advise you not to get pregnant or make someone pregnant while having this treatment. The drugs may harm a developing baby. It is important to use contraception during your treatment and for a while after treatment finishes. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can tell you more about this.
Women are advised not to breastfeed while having this treatment and for some time afterwards. This is because the drugs could be passed to the baby through breast milk.
If you have sex in the first few days after chemotherapy, you need to use a condom. This is to protect your partner in case there is any chemotherapy in semen or vaginal fluids.
If you need medical treatment for any reason other than cancer, always tell the doctors and nurses that you are having cancer treatment.
Give them the contact details for your cancer doctor so they can ask for advice.
If you think you need dental treatment, talk to your cancer doctor or nurse. Always tell your dentist you are having cancer treatment.
You should not have some types of vaccinations during, and for a time after, this treatment. Talk to your cancer doctor before having any vaccinations.
If you have a lot on your mind, you might find it useful to make a checklist. You can use our checklists for home, work and travel to help you get organised.
Order booklets or audio CDs about chemotherapy. It includes how it works, having treatment and how it might affect you.
All types of treatment can have different side effects. Know what to expect to help you find the best way for you to handle them.
What's happening near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you are.
Read about our Community champions' experience of chemotherapy. They talk about what to bring to treatment, side effects and friendship between patients.
A support group for everything about chemotherapy, being treated and side effects. Tell others about your experiences and get answers to your questions.
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