What side effects are possible with this medication?

A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. It can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent, but does not occur in everyone.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away over time. If you develop any of these side effects (or any other side effects not listed here) or they change in intensity, speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice on managing them and on the risks and benefits of the medication.

  • appetite loss
  • fatigue
  • low platelet cells (may increase the risk of bleeding)
  • low red blood cells (may lead to fatigue or paleness)
  • low white blood cells (may increase the risk of infection)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain, tingling, numbness in arms or legs
  • seizures
Click here to learn about serious side effects that can potentially occur with any medication. These examples are provided for information purposes only and are not meant to be exhaustive. Always consult your doctor for sound medical advice specific to your particular medication and treatment.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone at 1-800-332-1088.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people that have a contagious infection and tell your doctor if you begin to notice the signs of an infection such as fever or chills.

Fertility: This medication can cause fertility problems.

Occupational hazards: This medication can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and an imbalance in your walking. This is more common with high doses of altretamine. Do not drive or operate machinery if the medication affects you in this way.

Risk of bleeding: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding. Your doctor will recommend regular blood tests while you are taking altretamine.

Tingling sensation: This medication can cause some pain and tingling in the hands and feet. This is more common with high doses of altretamine, and can be a sign of nerve damage. Your doctor will recommend regular neurologic (nerve) tests while you are taking altretamine.

Pregnancy: There is a possibility of birth defects if either the male or female is taking altretamine at the time of conception, or if it is taken during pregnancy. Use an effective method of birth control while taking this medication. This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if altretamine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of this medication have not been established for children.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between altretamine and any of the following:

  • cimetidine
  • MAO inhibitors (e.g., tranylcypromine, phenelzine, selegeline)
  • pyridoxine

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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The contents of this health site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.

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