- What is temozolomide ?
- What does it look like ?
- How is it given?
- Side effects
- Less common side effects
- Additional information
Temozolomide is a chemotherapy drug used for the treatment of various types of cancer. It is most commonly used to treat brain tumours called glioma's.
Temozolomide is a capsule tablet.
It should be taken at the same time every day on an empty stomach, as prescribed by your doctor.
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 side 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 temozolomide affects your white cell production from the bone marrow. This effect usually occurs about 10-14 days after your chemotherapy. You will have blood tests to check your levels during chemotherapy to ensure your blood levels have returned to normal. Occasionally your treatment may be delayed until your blood levels come back to normal. If you notice any signs of infection visit your doctor for assessment.
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.
Temozolomide 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 feel lethargic and breathless due to a reduction in your red cells caused by temozolomide. Inform your doctor if you are feeling these effects.
If diarrhoea occurs it can be easily controlled with medicine. It is important to drink plenty of fluid if you experience diarrhoea and to inform your doctor or nurse.
Nausea and vomiting
Temozolomide can make you feel sick nausea or to to be sick vomit . It may occur a few hours after you receive your first dose of temozolomide and can last for a number of days. Your doctor will prescribe some medications to prevent this anti-emetics .If you continue to feel sick it is important to inform your doctor.
If you suffer from constipation as a result of temozolomide it can be relieved by adhering to a high fibre diet or taking mild laxatives.
Loss of appetite
You may feel lees like eating your usual diet or you may have taste changes while you are having temozolomide treatment. A dietician can advise you of build up foods and drinks to boost you calorie intake.
Temozolomide can cause a rash, which may be itchy. Your doctor can prescribe medicine for you to relieve this symptom. Let your doctor know if you have any skin reactions after the chemotherapy.
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.
Hair loss is very rare. The usual effect on a persons hair is thining of the hair, but in rare cases the hair may be lost completely. You may also have loss of hair or thining of your eyebrows, eyelashes and other body parts. It is important to remember that this hair loss is just temporary and hair will regrow once treatment stops.
Dizziness and breathless
Very rarely patients taking this chemotherapy may suffer from these symptoms. Ensure to inform your doctor if you have these experiences.
Fever and chills
Temozolomide may cause symptoms including: fever, chills, sweating, tiredness, headaches. These symptoms do not usually last for long but ensure to drink plenty of fluids and take plenty of rest if you suffer these symptoms.
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.
It is important to discuss this with your doctor as your fertility may be affected by temozolomide.
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 or father a child while on treatment as the drugs may affect the foetus.
Take precaution if you are driving machinery as temozolomide may cause drowsiness.
- Store the tablets in a cool, dry place.
- Keep the tablets in a safe place where children cannot reach them.
- Take your capsules at the right times as directed by your doctor.
- If your doctor decides to stop the treatment, return any remaining capsules to the pharmacist. Do not flush them down the toilet or throw them away.
- If you forget to take a capsule do not take a double dose. Tell your doctor.
- If you vomit soon after taking your tablets inform your doctor.
- British National Formulary (53rd edition). British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britian, March 2007.
- The Chemotherapy Source Book (2rd edition). Ed. Perry. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 1997.
- Oncology Nursing Drug Handbook. Ed. Barton-Burke, M. and Wilkes, G 2005.