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Arsenic trioxide (Trisenox®)

Arsenic trioxide

Brand Name: Trisenox®

Arsenic trioxide is used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). More specifically, this medication is given to patients who have not responded to a different initial treatment, or whose cancer has recurred.

Arsenic trioxide is an antineoplastic drug that works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.

This medication is given has an intravenous injection. The injections usually take 1 to 2 hours, but may be given more gradually if side effects occur during the infusion. Arsenic trioxide is usually given once a day for several consecutive days.

Arsenic trioxide side effects

Possible side effects of arsenic trioxide may include:

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs (called edema in medical terminology)
  • Rash
  • Itching

High blood sugar: Taking arsenic trioxide may lead to an increase in blood sugar, possibly resulting in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms of high blood sugar:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Weakness
  • Blurry vision

Diabetes ketoacidosis: Untreated hyperglycemia may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be serious and life-threatening. Seek medical care immediately if you experience:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breath that smells fruity
  • Decreased consciousness

Some of arsenic trioxide’s side effects can be serious. Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
  • Stool that is black and tarry or contains bright red blood
  • Decreased urination
  • Hives
  • Seizures

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. Patients may experience additional effects not mentioned above.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), your team of cancer experts will explain each of the side effects of arsenic trioxide with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Arsenic trioxide for cancer treatment

Arsenic trioxide is approved by the FDA for the following:

  • As a second-line treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia therapy. It may be given to patients who did not respond to another drug, or whose cancer has recurred following a treatment that was initially successful

At CTCA, our integrative approach to cancer treatment works to fight your disease on all fronts and ensures that you remain at the center of everything we do. We encourage participation from both you and your family to make certain you are comfortable with all decisions made regarding your treatment.

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Cancer Treatment Centers of America assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Please check with a physician if you suspect you are ill. Also note that while Cancer Treatment Centers of America frequently updates its contents, medical information changes rapidly. Therefore, some information may be out of date.

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