About your treatment
Your doctor has ordered the drug hydroxyurea to help treat your illness. The drug in capsule form can be taken by mouth.
This medication is used to treat:
- chronic myelocytic leukemia
- ovarian cancer
- primary squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (excluding the lip)
- chronic myelogenous leukemia
- sickle cell anemia
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Hydroxyurea is in a class of drugs known as urea derivatives; it slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in your body. In sickle cell anemia, hydroxyurea decreases the episodes of painful crisis by decreasing the sickling of red blood cells. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.
Other uses for this medicine
Hydroxyurea also is used to treat polycythemia vera, psoriasis, hypereosinophilic syndrome, lung cancer, and a variety of other cancers. In addition, hydroxyurea has been used along with anti-infective and surgical therapy to treat chronic urinary tract infections caused by certain bacteria. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
Before taking hydroxyurea,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to hydroxyurea or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially aspirin, didanosine (Videx), stavudine (Zerit), and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and if you have or have ever had gastrointestinal or kidney disease.
- you should know that hydroxyurea may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should tell their doctors before they begin taking this drug. You should not plan to have children while receiving chemotherapy or for a while after treatments. (Talk to your doctor for further details.) Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Hydroxyurea may harm the fetus.
- do not have any vaccinations (e.g., measles or flu shots) without talking to your doctor.
Side effects from hydroxyurea are common and include:
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
Tell your doctor if either of these symptoms is severe or lasts for several hours:
- fatigue or drowsiness
- mouth blistering
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- persistent diarrhea or any change in normal bowel habits for more than 2 days
- sore throat
- tingling of the hands and feet
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- pain in the right upper part of the stomach
Keep hydroxyurea in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison controlcenter at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsedor is not breathing, call local emergency services at911.
- The most common side effect of hydroxyurea is a decrease in the number of blood cells. Your doctor may order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by the drug.