About this drug
Prednisone is a steroid that may be used to treat cancer. This drug is given by mouth.
Possible side effects (more common)
- High number of white blood cells
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- More growth of facial hair
- High blood sugars. Your blood glucose level will be checked as needed.
- Electrolyte changes. Your blood will be checked for electrolyte changes as needed.
- More at risk for infections such as herpes zoster, fungus infections, and delayed wound healing.
- High blood pressure. Your doctor will check your blood pressure as needed.
- Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
- Mood changes, which may include depression or a feeling of extreme wellbeing
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
- Feeling confused or seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there (hallucinations)
- Feeling restless, nervous, or irritable
- Trouble sleeping
Possible side effects (less common)
- Skin reactions such as rash, acne, facial redness, reddish-purple lines on the skin, or shiny skin.
- Bloody or black, tarry stools
- Pain or burning in the stomach or abdomen
- Mild nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
- Leg cramps
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 symptoms of a reaction, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.
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 medicine to help you 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.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse if you feel you need help with your mood changes.
- Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
- Do not take this drug close to bedtime; it may cause trouble sleeping.
- Take this medicine with food to decrease the risk of upset stomach.
- Prednisone should be taken with food.
- If instructed by your doctor, check blood sugar levels during therapy and report them to the doctor if the levels are high.
Food and drug interactions
There are no known interactions of prednisone 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 higher
- 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 when passing urine; blood in urine
- Pain in your lower back or side
- Confusion or agitation
- Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
- Throwing up more than 3 times a day
- Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
- Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause. If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911.
- Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin.
Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of these symptoms happen:
- Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
- Decreased urine
- Unusual thirst or passing urine often
- 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
- Heavy menstrual period that lasts longer than normal
- Numbness, tingling, decreased feeling or weakness in fingers, toes, arms, or legs
- Trouble walking or changes in the way you walk, feeling clumsy when buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine hand motions
- Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
- Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
- 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
- Painful, red, or swollen areas on your hands or feet.
- No bowel movement for 3 days or you feel uncomfortable
- Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities
- 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: 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