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.
Anemia: Cytarabine 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.
Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells, including red blood cells, in your blood.
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 if there are any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly as usual. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding.
Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people who have contagious infections and tell your doctor if you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills.
Kidney function: Kidney disease or reduced kidney function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. 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: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have liver problems, 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. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.
Tumour Lysis Syndrome: Cytarabine, like many other cancer medications, causes many cancer cells to be suddenly killed when treatment is first started. This can overwhelm the body with waste products from the cells. As a result, the body may not be able to keep up with getting rid of all the waste. When this happens, you may experience nausea, shortness of breath, cloudy urine, or joint pain. This is called tumour lysis syndrome. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help your body get rid of the waste products. Make sure you understand how to use these medications and report any of these signs or symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Pregnancy: There is a possibility of birth defect if either the father or the mother is using cytarabine at the time of conception, or if it is taken during pregnancy. Effective birth control should be practiced while using this medication. Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant while using this medication. It should only be used during pregnancy if potential benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
Breast-feeding: It is not known whether cytarabine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Because of the risks associated with this medication, a decision should be made to stop breast-feeding or stop taking the medication, taking into account the importance of the medication to the mother. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 1 year of age.