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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Prednisone (Deltasone®)


Brand Names: Deltasone®, Prednisone Intensol®

Prednisone is used in the treatment some types of leukemia and lymphoma, and several other types of cancer.

Prednisone is a glucocorticosteroid, part of a class of drugs called corticosteroids. This drug is a synthetic version of a hormone naturally produced by the body’s adrenal glands. It’s not completely understood how prednisone works in the treatment of cancer. Because corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory, they may prevent white blood cells from going to parts of the body where swelling is occurring, such as around tumors. In certain cancers of the blood, prednisone might cause cancerous white blood cells to die.

This medication is given as a tablet or liquid that can be taken by mouth. Each dose is taken with food, at a frequency ranging from once daily to four times daily. In some cases, the drug may be taken once every other day. Sometimes, a concentrated solution may be used, in which case the dosage can be mixed with juice or other fluids, or with soft foods such as applesauce. Your prescription may need to be adjusted during the course of your care to be sure that you are receiving the lowest dose possible without compromising the benefits of your treatment

Prednisone side effects

To prevent problematic interactions between prednisone 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 an eye infection, threadworms (a parasite that can live inside the body), diabetes, high blood pressure, emotional problems, myasthenia gravis (a condition of weak muscles), osteoporosis, seizures, liver tumor, liver disease, or kidney disease, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.

Possible side effects of Prednisone may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Extreme mood swings or personality changes
  • Bulging eyes
  • Acne
  • Thin, fragile skin
  • Red or purple blotches or lines under the skin
  • Slowed healing of cuts and bruises
  • Increased hair growth
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Changes in fat distribution around the body
  • Weakness
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Heartburn
  • Increased sweating

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

  • Vision problems
  • Eye pain, redness, or tearing
  • Sore throat, fever, chills, or other signs of infection
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Loss of contact with reality
  • Confusion
  • Muscle twitching or tightening
  • Uncontrollable shaking in the hands
  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in the face, arms, legs, feet or hands
  • Upset stomach
  • Lightheadedness
  • Swelling in areas around the face, hands, feet, ankles, arms, or legs
  • Rash, hives, or itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry, hacking cough

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

Prednisone for cancer treatment

Prednisone may be used in the treatment of:

  • Some types of leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers, usually alongside chemotherapy
  • To help prevent or treat allergic reactions to other drugs used in cancer care
  • To help treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs
  • To increase appetite, frequently diminished during cancer treatment
  • To decrease blood calcium levels as part of the treatment of some bone cancers

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (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.