Cytarabine is often given with another medicine called dexamethasone. This is done to prevent a possibly fatal side effect called chemical arachnoiditis. This causes symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, headache, and fever. Your doctor will watch you closely when you are given cytarabine.
Other side effects that are common with cytarabine include:
- Decreased Reference white blood cell Opens New Window counts (leukopenia) and Reference red blood cell counts Opens New Window (anemia).
- Decreased Reference platelet Opens New Window counts (Reference thrombocytopenia Opens New Window), which may lead to bleeding in the digestive tract causing Reference tarry stools Opens New Window. It may also cause bleeding under the skin, in the urine, or other places in the body.
- Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
- Headaches or seizures.
- Hair loss. This is reversible, and hair will grow back when treatment ends.
- Mouth sores (stomatitis).
- Slurred speech and difficulty walking (Reference ataxia Opens New Window).
Reference Peripheral neuropathies, which may be irreversible and
may be made worse by exercise. Symptoms include:
- Numbness and tingling.
- Unsteadiness when standing or walking.
- Clumsiness of the hands and feet.
- Cough and hoarseness.
- Eye problems, such as blurred vision or the inability to see colors.
- Kidney damage.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: December 17, 2010|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology