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Generic Name: arsenic trioxide

It slows the growth of cancer cells
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What is this medicine?

ARSENIC TRIOXIDE (AR se nik trye OX ide) is a chemotherapy drug. It slows the growth of cancer cells. This medicine is used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • irregular heartbeat
  • kidney disease
  • low levels of potassium, calcium, or magnesium in the blood
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to arsenic, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This drug is given as an infusion into a vein. It is administered in a hospital or clinic by a specially trained health care professional.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss your dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
  • cisapride
  • droperidol
  • herbal or dietary supplements with hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata
  • medicines for irregular heart beat like amiodarone, bepridil, dofetilide, encainide, flecainide, propafenone, quinidine
  • methadone
  • phenothiazines like chlorpromazine, mesoridazine, prochlorperazine, thioridazine
  • ranolazine
  • sodium phosphate monobasic monohydrate; sodium phosphate dibasic anhydrous
  • some medicines for infection like chloroquine, gatifloxacin, gemifloxacin, halofantrine, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, pentamidine, troleandomycin
  • some medicines for mental problems like haloperidol, pimozide, ziprasidone
  • some medicines to treat cancer like dasatinib, lapatinib, sunitinib, vorinostat

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • alfuzosin
  • cyclobenzaprine
  • dolasetron
  • medicines for depression, anxiety, or psychotic disturbances
  • medicines for numbness, pain prevention, or sleep during surgery
  • octreotide
  • some medicines for infection like, clarithromycin, erythromycin, mefloquine, norfloxacin, ofloxacin
  • some medicines to treat cancer like daunorubicin, doxorubicin
  • tacrolimus
  • vardenafil

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor for checks on your progress. This drug may make you feel generally unwell. This is not uncommon, as chemotherapy can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Report any side effects. Continue your course of treatment even though you feel ill unless your doctor tells you to stop.

This medicine may affect blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, check with your doctor or health care professional before you change your diet or the dose of your diabetic medicine.

Avoid taking products that contain aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen unless instructed by your doctor. These medicines may hide a fever.

Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.

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All visitors to AARP.org should seek expert medical care and consult their own physicians for any specific health issues. Read this disclaimer in its entirety.
Note: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have question about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional.
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