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Fludarabine is a chemotherapy drug that is mainly used in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. 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.
It is a colourless fluid when dissolved from a powder.
Fludarabine can be given as an injection or infusion (intravenous) into a peripheral cannula or via a central line.
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 Fludarabine affects your white cell production from the bone marrow. This effect usually occurs about 7 days after your chemotherapy. Your white cells however do 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 Fludarabine. Inform your doctor if you are feeling these effects.
Fludarabine can also affect the production of platelets, which can cause bleeding or bruising. Inform your doctor if you notice any unexplained bleeding or bruising.
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 when you finish your treatment.
You may experience some diarrhoea. It is important to inform your doctor or nurse if you are having a lot of bowel motions in a day.
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.
You may find that your appetite decreases while you are receiving chemotherapy. You should maintain a healthy diet and ask to speak to your dietician if you have any worries.
Fludarabine can make you feel sick nausea or to to be sick vomit . When this occurs can vary. Your doctor some medications to prevent this anti-emetics . If you continue to feel sick it is important to inform your doctor.
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.
Fludarabine can cause headaches, seizures or some changes to your vision. If any of these symptoms occur inform your doctor.
You may experience some changes to your breathing. Inform your doctor if you experience any shortness of breath or cough.
Fludarabine can cause some changes to your liver. You will have regular blood tests to monitor your liver function.
Fludarabine can cause some irritation to your bladder. It is important to maintain a high fluid intake. If you notice any blood in your urine it is important to inform your doctor.
It is important to discuss this with your doctor as Fludarabine 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.
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.
National Cancer Helpline
Freefone 1 800 200 700
Talk to a specialist nurse
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