Posted on April 28th, 2009 by
Generic Name: arsenic trioxide (ARE-sen-ik try-OX-ide)
Trade Name: Trisenox®
For which conditions is this drug approved? Arsenic trioxide is indicated for the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) with specific genetic subtypes in patients who have already received prior treatment with an anthracycline and/or retinoid.
What is the mechanism of action? Arsenic trioxide is a chemotherapy agent that kills cancer cells. The way in which arsenic trioxide works is not completely understood at present; however, it is believed to cause damage to the cancer cell and its DNA, which prompts the cell to destroy itself. Arsenic trioxide may also inhibit the cell from replicating, and inhibit the supply of nutrients to the cell needed for growth. It is cleared from the body mainly through the urine.
How is arsenic trioxide typically given (administered)? Arsenic trioxide is given in a vein (intravenous), typically over 1 to 2 hours. The dose depends on several factors, including the condition being treated, the size of the patient, the particular treatment regimen being used, and the overall health of the patient.
How are patients typically monitored? While being treated with arsenic trioxide, patients typically have frequent blood tests to monitor their electrolyte levels, blood cell levels, glucose levels, kidney function and blood coagulation time. In addition, patients typically receive an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor heart function prior to treatment and possibly while on treatment with arsenic trioxide. Also prior to treatment, patients should receive an electrocardiogram (ECG) reading of the heart, along with the monitoring of electrolytes and creatinine levels to ensure they are within the normal ranges. Patients may also undergo scans or other measures to assess response to therapy. Uncommonly, a serious condition called APL differentiation syndrome may occur with treatment involving arsenic trioxide. Differentiation syndrome may produce fever, difficulty breathing, lung problems, heart problems, fluid retention and weight gain. Therefore, patients may also be checked for these symptoms. If patients experience fever, sudden weight gain, difficulty breathing or chest discomfort at any time, they should call a healthcare provider immediately. APL differentiation syndrome can be successfully treated with high-dose steroids.
What are the common (occur in 30% or more of patients) side effects of treatment with arsenic trioxide?
What are the less common (occur in 10% to 29% of patients) side effects of treatment with arsenic trioxide?
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
When should patients notify their physician?
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
Last updated on 09/16.
Important Limitations of Use
The information provided above on the drug you have selected is provided for your information only and is not a substitute for consultation with an appropriate medical doctor. We are providing this information solely as a courtesy and, as such, it is in no way a recommendation as to the safety, efficacy or appropriateness of any particular drug, regimen, dosing schedule for any particular cancer, condition or patient nor is it in any way to be considered medical advice. Patients should discuss the appropriateness of a particular drug or chemotherapy regimen with their physician.
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