What is Chlorambucil?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Chlorambucil is a medication used in the treatment of certain types of cancers. It is in a class of drugs known as chemotherapy medications and is most commonly seen in the treatment of leukemia and lymphomas, although there can be other uses as well. Like other chemotherapy drugs, chlorambucil is a very potent medication designed to kill cancers or slow their rate of growth. It may be taken alone or with other medications, depending on the treatment plan developed for a patient's particular case.

A diagram of the effects of leukemia. Chlorambucil is used to treat some forms of leukemia.
A diagram of the effects of leukemia. Chlorambucil is used to treat some forms of leukemia.

This drug is available in oral form. Patients must take the tablets with lots of water and it is important to stay hydrated while on chlorambucil, as high water intake will help the body flush the medication. This will minimize side effects associated with the buildup of toxins in the body, making the patient feel more comfortable. Increased patient comfort can make it easier for people to comply with treatment regimens.

This dry is an alkylating agent. It works by attacking the DNA in cancerous cells to stop the cells from dividing, thereby preventing cancer from spreading. Over time, it also damages the cancer cells, causing them to die off and shrinking the cancer. This medication is designed to be used under the supervision of an oncologist, a cancer specialist, and consultation is usually needed regularly during treatment to see how well the patient is responding to treatment and to make any necessary adjustments.

Common side effects of chlorambucil include changes in skin color and texture, with the skin usually drying out and becoming darker, along with weakness, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite. Other more serious side effects can include fatigue, easy bruising, fever, congestion, difficulty breathing, and confusion. This medication also limits the production of white blood cells, putting patients at increased risk of infection while they take chlorambucil, as their bodies will not be able to fight off infectious organisms.

This drug can damage the chromosomes. It is important for people using the medication to use birth control to avoid pregnancy, as eggs or sperm may be damaged and a pregnancy could result in birth defects. Women should not take chlorambucil while pregnant as it can harm a developing fetus. One possible consequence of using this medication can be infertility, and people who are concerned about this may want to meet with a fertility specialist and discuss freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos before starting treatment.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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