Azacitidine (Generic Name)

Other Names: Vidaza®

About this Drug

Azacitidine is used to treat cancer. It is given by a shot into your skin (subcutaneous injection).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It may increase your risk for infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Fever
  • Shaking chills
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Muscle, arm, leg, back, and/or abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in bowel movements. Some people have diarrhea while other people have constipation.
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety or Depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rash. It may or may not be itchy.
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Skin and tissue irritation. You may have redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the injection site.

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment. This applies to both men and women on azacitidine.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help prevent or lessen nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and pain.
  • Drink six to eight cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is eight ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of regular, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water or 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in eight ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bedtime.
  • If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medication if your rash is bothersome.

Allergy Warning

  • Tell you doctor if you have an allergy to mannitol. Mannitol is found in some artificial sweeteners and some breath freshener candy and mints.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of this drug with food. Azacitidine may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor’s advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Dizziness
  • Uncontrolled nausea that keeps you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than 3 times a day

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headache, muscle pain that does not go away with prescribed medicine
  • Extreme fatigue and weakness that interfere with daily activities
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Pain in your muscles, arm, leg, back, and/or abdomen
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rash or itching
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss

Revised January 2013

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