Other names: Dacogen®

About this drug

This drug is used to treat bone marrow disorders and leukemia. It is given by IV (intravenously).

Possible side effects

  • 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
  • Increased blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). You may have unusual thirst and need to urinate often.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in bowel movements. Some patients have diarrhea. Other patients have constipation.
  • Cough
  • Swelling (fluid retention) in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Joint pain
  • Tiny red spots on the arms and legs
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Reproductive concerns

This drug may have harmful effects on an unborn child. For this reason, both men and women should use effective methods of birth control during their cancer treatment. Discuss effective methods of birth control with your physician. Men should not father a child while receiving treatment with decitabine and for 2 months afterwards.


If you are exposed to this drug while pregnant, ask to speak to a genetic counselor. A genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems with the fetus and with future pregnancies.

Women are advised not to breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast-fed infant.

Treating side effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help prevent or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, or joint pain.
  • If you are constipated, ask your doctor or nurse about medicines and diet that may help you move your bowels regularly. Do not use enemas, laxatives, or suppositories without checking with your doctor or nurse.
  • Let your doctor or nurse know if you are having trouble sleeping.

Food and drug interactions

There are no known interactions of decitabine with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication 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. Untilmore is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor’s advice.

When to call the doctor

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

  • Temperature of 100.5 °f (38.0°c) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Black or tarry stools
  • Trouble breathing
  • Cough
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than 3 times in one day
  • Diarrhea of 5 or 6 stools in one day or diarrhea with weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiny red spots on your arms and legs


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

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headache, or joint paint that does not get better when you take prescribed medications
  • Swelling of your feet or lower legs
  • Unusual thirst
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Trouble sleeping that does not get better when you take prescribed medications

If you have diabetes

If you have diabetes, tell the doctor who treats your blood sugar that you are on decitabine. If you check your blood sugar and it is elevated, call your doctor for further instructions.

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