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Ifosfamide is a drug used in treatment for a variety of types of cancer. This chemotherapy drug is classified as an alkylating agent, meaning it attaches an alkyl group to cancer cells to attack their DNA, causing the cancer to stop dividing and growing. It is given intravenously and under the supervision of an oncologist, a cancer specialist. The oncologist determines the appropriate dosage and duration of treatment and may prescribe additional drugs to manage the patient's cancer more effectively.
Consumers may be more familiar with this drug under brand names like Mitoxana® and Ifex®. It is available from several pharmaceutical companies in the form of a white powder mixed with fluid to create a suspension for intravenous injection. The drug is usually infused in a clinic or hospital, allowing medical personnel to monitor the patient for signs of complications. It is commonly paired with mesna, a medication designed to address some of the bladder problems associated with ifosfamide usage.
Patients on this medication commonly experience nausea, vomiting, and a low white blood cell count. In addition, this medication interferes with kidney and bladder function. Patients can develop bloody urine, difficulty urinating, and other urinary problems. More rarely, this drug causes gastrointestinal problems and neurological deficits. Patients are familiarized with the side effects when they start taking the drug and it is advisable to call a doctor if severe or unexpected side effects are experienced.
Like many chemotherapy agents, ifosfamide can interact negatively with other medications, including herbal and over the counter medications. People prescribed this medication should discuss all drugs they are taking with their doctors, and provide a complete medical history. Certain events in a patient's medical history may be contraindicators for ifosfamide usage, as the patient may be at increased risk of developing dangerous side effects.
While on this medication, patients will be evaluated regularly for signs of complications and the cancer's response to the treatment will also be assessed. If a patient does not appear to be improving, other treatments may be explored as a secondary avenue. Patients taking ifosfamide are usually advised to avoid people with colds and other illnesses and to avoid getting vaccines, if possible, as their immune systems are depleted and less capable of fighting off infectious agents. If a patient does start to become sick, it is advisable to see a doctor as quickly as possible for treatment, as a relatively minor infection can be a major concern in a cancer patient.