Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding.
Gout: Cladribine may cause high levels of uric acid in the blood, making gout more likely to occur. If you experience sudden pain, swelling or stiffeness in a joint, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, cladribine can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.
Kidney function: Cladribine may cause reduced kidney function. If you have reduced kidney function or kidney disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver function: If you have reduced liver function or liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Nerve damage: High doses of cladribine, and cladribine used with other treatments for cancer have been associated with damage to the nerves affecting the arms and legs. In some cases, permanent paralysis of the limbs has occurred. If you experience difficulty moving your arms or legs, or numbness and tingling in the limbs, inform your doctor immediately.
Red blood cells: Cladribine may cause low levels of red blood cells. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia) such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Pregnancy: Cladribine should not be used during pregnancy. There is a possibility of birth defects if either the man or woman is using cladribine at the time of conception, or if it is taken during pregnancy. Effective birth control should be practiced while using this medication and for at least 6 months after the last dose. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if cladribine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication for children have not been clearly established. It should only be prescribed or given by health care professionals familiar with the use of cancer chemotherapy in children.