Hydroxyurea is an anticancer medication used for the treatment of leukemia. It works by interfering with the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) growth and repair, hence impeding growth of leukemic cells.
Hydroxyurea is also used for the management of sickle cell anemia. It works by increasing red blood cells (RBC) hemoglobin F levels and hence helps RBC stay flexible.
Possible side effects from Hydroxyurea and their management are listed below. Always inform the doctor if you (or your child) experience any side effects, so that the necessary monitoring may be conducted. Seek immediate medical attention if side effects are serious and urgent for e.g. severe skin reactions such as skin ulcers or allergic reactions such as itchy rash, blistered, peeling skin, swelling in face/ lips/ tongue/ throat, tightness in chest or throat and/ or trouble breathing.
Low white blood cell count.
White blood cells protect the body by fighting bacteria (germs) that cause infection.
When the number of white blood cells is low, you (or your child) will be more susceptible to infections and may become very ill from these infections.
Seek medical help immediately if your (or your child) experiences any of the following:
Low platelet counts.
Platelets are important for blood clotting. With low platelets, you (or your child) may bruise or bleed (eg. gums or nose) more easily than usual.
Be safety conscious.
Brush teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Raised uric acid levels in blood.
This may occur when Hydroxyurea is first started. High uric acid in the blood may affect the kidney.
Drink plenty of fluids (at least 8 glasses per day).
Seek medical help immediately if you (or your child) experiences signs of gout such as warmth, pain, swelling and extreme tenderness in joints.
Use gentle shampoo and soft hairbrush.
Wear a cap to protect the scalp especially when going out.
Do not use this medicine if you (or your child) is allergic to Hydroxyurea.
Before starting Hydroxyurea, do inform your doctor of any other medical conditions (eg. kidney diseases) or other medications (especially anti-HIV medications) that you (or your child) is already on. Do not take any other medications, herbal products or vaccinations without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.
Hydroxyurea is available in capsule form.
Hydroxyurea is usually taken once a day, preferably at the same time each day. Your doctor may change the dosage of Hydroxyurea depending on blood tests results. Always follow the doctor’s instructions strictly. Do not stop taking (or giving) Hydroxyurea unless you are told to do so by your doctor. Do not take (or give) more or less than required unless instructed.
Take (or give) Hydroxyurea with food or on an empty stomach. Swallow the capsules whole with a glass of water. Do not open, crush or chew the capsules. Please inform your pharmacist or doctor if you (or your child) are unable to swallow capsules.
If you (or your child) forget a dose, take (or give) it as soon as you remember. If it is nearer to the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take (or give) two doses at the same time.
Do not repeat dose if vomiting occurs after dose is administered, wait until the next scheduled dose. Contact the pharmacist or doctor if you (or your child) repeatedly missed doses due to vomiting, even with the administration of anti-vomiting medicine.
Take precautions to avoid cytotoxic exposure: wear gloves and mask when handling the capsules. Please refer to Patient’s Information Leaflet on “Safe Handling of Oral Cytotoxic Medications” for details.