Dasatinib is a cancer drug prescribed as treatment for certain kinds of leukemia, such as chronic myelogenous leukemia and some types of acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is sometimes prescribed when patients can no longer benefit from other leukemia treatments or can no longer take other cancer drugs because of their side effects. This medication is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Dasatinib prohibits leukemia cells from growing by blocking the signals of tyrosine kinases, which are proteins that signal cells to grow and divide.
This medicine comes in tablet form. It’s taken orally once a day and should be taken with water. It can be taken with or without food. Tablets need to be swallowed whole, however, because breaking or crushing the pills can result in the release of too much medicine at once.
Dasatinib has many potential side effects, some of which can be serious or life-threatening. One possible side effect is the lowering of the patient’s blood platelet count. Any unusual bruising, bleeding gums, nosebleeds or black, tarry stools should be reported to a healthcare professional at once.
Another possible risk of this leukemia treatment is a reduced red blood cell count. In addition, the drug can cause edema around the heart, lungs, abdomen or eyes. It could also cause swelling in the hands or feet. Furthermore, this medicine can lower the person's white blood cell count, which increases the chance of infection. Any signs of infection such as fever or chills should be reported to a doctor.
Dasatinib can cause harm to a fetus. For this reason, patients who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should alert their doctors before taking this drug. Dasatinib can affect the fetus when it’s used by either parent, so birth control should be used to prevent pregnancy while taking this medication. In addition, this cancer treatment can affect fertility and reduce a patient’s chances of having children in the future.
It’s important for patients who are taking this drug to notify their healthcare professionals of all other medicines and herbal or dietary supplements they’re taking. Some drugs and supplements can lower the levels of dasatinib in the blood and render it less effective. Certain antacids and medications for heartburn or acid reflux can affect the amount of dasatinib that the body can absorb, lowering its effectiveness.
Other medicines and supplements can increase the chance of bleeding while a person is undergoing this type of cancer treatment. Dasatinib can increase the risk of heart rhythm problems for patients who are taking certain other drugs, too. This medicine has so many potential side effects and interactions with other medications that it’s important for patients to be closely monitored by their physicians while taking it.
Anyone who is lactose intolerant should inform their physician before taking this cancer treatment, because it contains lactose. In addition, patients on dasatinib should avoid grapefruit, grapefruit extract or grapefruit juice. Grapefruit can change the amount of dasatinib in the blood and cause serious side effects as a result.