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Also part of the UPMC family:

Pegaspargase (Generic Name)

UPMC Content 2

About This Drug

Pegaspargase is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV) or by a shot in the muscle.

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis are rare but may happen in some patients.  Signs of allergic reactions to this drug may be swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way.  If you get these symptoms, do not take another dose of this drug.
  • Irritation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). You may have stomach pains, nausea and throwing up, or there may be high levels of the enzymes made by your pancreas.
  • Changes in liver enzymes. Blood tests will be used to check on your liver enzymes as needed.
  • Increased blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). You may notice unusual thirst and frequent need to urinate.
  • Blood clotting problems. You may notice that you bruise easy or have bleeding. Your blood work will be checked as needed.
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within several hours after your treatment and may last up to 24 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • 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.
  • Feeling confused
  • Hearing, smelling, or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Red rash that may be itchy

Allergic Reactions

Serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare.  While you are getting this drug, tell your nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling
  • Feeling your heart beat rapidly (palpitations)
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Flushing, itching, rash, and/or hives

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 from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help stop or lessen nausea and throwing up.
  • 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.
  • If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying down.
  • Use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment. Talk with your doctor about what types of birth control you should use.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of pegaspargase 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 your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or feeling lightheaded
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Pain in stomach or side
  • Feeling confused or agitated
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of these symptoms happen:

  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Headache that does not go away

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child.  For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while getting this drug.
  • 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.

Revised July 2014