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Azacitidine (Vidaza®)

Azacitidine

Brand Name: Vidaza®

Azacitidine is used to treat myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Azacitidine is a demethylation agent. In MDS, which is actually a group of conditions rather than one specific disease, the bone marrow produces misshapen blood cells and not enough healthy blood cells. Demethylation agents help restore the production of healthy blood cells and kill the abnormal cells in the marrow.

This medication comes in a powder form, which is mixed with water and then injected under the skin (subcutaneously) or into a vein (intravenously). Azacitidine is usually given once daily for 7 consecutive days, with treatment repeated every 4 weeks. Patients usually receive at least 4 treatment cycles, though your doctor may recommend additional cycles. Throughout treatment, the dose of azacitidine may be adjusted depending on how you respond to the drug and how well it’s working. An antiemetic may also be provided to help prevent nausea and vomiting that can occur following treatment with azacitidine.

Azacitidine side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between azacitidine and other drugs, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and what other medications and supplements you are currently taking. You should also inform your doctor if you have or ever had a liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding. Azacitidine should not be taken during breastfeeding. If you have surgery and/or dental work during your treatment, be sure to inform your doctor and/or dentist that you are taking azacitidine.

Possible side effects of azacitidine may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Sores on the mouth or tongue
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Moodiness or anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or cramps
  • Night sweats
  • Difficulty urinating or pain when urinating
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Dry skin
  • Irritation at the site of injection

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

  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Small red or purple dots on the skin
  • Sore throat, fever, chills, or other signs of infection
  • Hives, rash, or itching
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing

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 azacitidine with you in detail, as well as the side effects and expectations of all other medications planned as part of your individualized treatment plan.

Azacitidine for cancer treatment

Azacitidine is approved by the FDA for the treatment of the following:

  • Myelodysplastic syndrome, of the following subtypes:
    • Refractory anemia
    • Refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (if accompanied by neutropenia or thrombocytopenia or requiring transfusions)
    • Refractory anemia with excess blasts
    • Refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation
    • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia

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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