Amsacrine (Amsidine)

Amsacrine is a chemotherapy drug that is used for the treatment of acute leukaemia in adults and children. It is usually given in combination with other drugs and is given in intravenous form. It may be helpful to read the general chemotherapy information section together with this section, as it will give more advice on chemotherapy side effects.

What Amsacrine looks like?

It is a red/orange coloured fluid.

How is it given?

It is given as an injection (intravenously) into a peripheral cannula or into a central line.

Side effects

The side effects mentioned below may not affect everyone, as each patient’s reaction to chemotherapy is different. It will also depend on how many chemotherapy drugs you are receiving. If you experience any effects that you think are related to your chemotherapy, please discuss them with your oncology doctor or chemotherapy nurse.


You will be more prone to infection as Amsacrine affects your white cell production from the bone marrow. This effect usually occurs about 7 days after your chemotherapy. Your white cells do, however gradually recover and are usually within normal ranges for your next chemotherapy course.You should contact your doctor or the Oncology Unit straight away if you if you have a sore throat,cough, pain passing urine, redness and swelling at e.g. at a catheter site. Or have a temperature of 38 degrees° C or greater.


You may feel lethargic and breathless due to a reduction in your red cells caused by Amsacrine. Inform your doctor if you are feeling these effects.


Amsacrine can also affect the production of platelets, which can cause bleeding or bruising. Inform your doctor if you notice any unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Nausea and vomiting

Amsacrine can make you feel sick (nausea) or to be sick (vomit). When this occurs can vary. Your doctor will prescribe some medications to prevent this (anti-emetics). If you continue to feel sick it is important to inform your doctor.

Sore mouth

You may develop a sore mouth or ulcers due to your chemotherapy. You will be prescribed some mouthwashes. Inform your doctor or nurse if your mouth becomes sore or you develop ulcers. You may also experience some taste changes, which will resolve after you finish your treatment.

Discoloured urine

Due to the colour of the chemotherapy your urine will be a red/orange colour for a few hours after your treatment has completed.


You may feel very tired. This can last for a few months after your treatment. Inform your doctor or nurse of how you are feeling.


Less common side effects

Hair loss (alopecia)

You may lose all your hair or it may just thin out. This usually happens after your first course of chemotherapy. This is temporary and your hair will grow back.

Changes to your heart rhythm

Your heart rhythm will be checked before you start your treatment. You will also have regular bloods tests to check the chemicals in your blood. One of these chemicals (potassium) can cause your heart rhythm to change if it is not within normal levels. If the rhythm of your heart changes it can be treated with medications and is usually temporary.


It is important to tell your doctor if you are experiencing this symptom. It can be treated with medications.


You can experience a pain or swelling at the injection site (cannula) in you hand or arm. You should inform your nurse or doctor if this occurs.


Other information


It is important to discuss this with your doctor as Amsacrine may affect your fertility.


It is important to use a reliable form of contraception while you are on treatment and for at least two years after your treatment has completed. It is not advised to get pregnant while on treatment as the drugs may affect the foetus.

Other medications

It is important to inform your doctor of any medications that you are taking, including over the counter medications or herbal drugs as they can interfere with some chemotherapy drugs.


  • The Chemotherapy Source Book (2nd edition). M. Perry, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 1997
  • British National Formulary (53rd edition). British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, March 2007
  • Handbook of Adult Cancer Chemotherapy Schedules (2nd edition). D. Dearnaley, I. Judson and T. Root, TMG Healthcare Communications, 2002
  • Cancer Chemotherapy Handbook (2nd edition). D C Baquiran, Lippincotts, 2001