​Dactinomycin (Generic Name)
Other Names: Cosmegen®

About This Drug

Dactinomycin is used to treat cancer. This drug is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 48 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Changes in the way food and drinks taste
  • Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that hurt
  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Changes in your liver function. Your doctor will check your liver function as needed.

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Rash
  • This drug may affect how your kidneys work. Your kidney function will be checked as needed. 
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue (low energy, feeling weak)
  • This drug may raise your risk of getting a second cancer

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body due to losing too much fluid).
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen fever, headache, muscle and joint aches

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of dactinomycin with food. This drug 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 taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might 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 help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

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

  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Sexual and 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.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility: Sexual problems and reproduction concerns may happen. In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
    • In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations.
    • In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are getting this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period.

New Education Sheet: May 2015

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com