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What Is Romidepsin?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 17, 2024
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Romidepsin is a medication that is used in the treatment of certain types of T-cell lymphoma. In all cases, this drug is only used after some other type of cancer treatment has already been attempted. Like many other cancer drugs, this medication works by preventing cancerous cells from dividing, which they otherwise do unchecked. It may kill off healthy cells as well, which is why cancer treatments can sicken many patients.

A doctor will determine an individual course of treatment with romidepsin for each patient, the specifics of which will depend on the specifics of the disease. In most cases, the treatment is given weekly, and treatment may be continued over the course of months or may be stopped and started again, depending on how the cancer is responding. This medication is administered into a patient's bloodstream through an intravenous line over the course of a few hours. Infusing the medication into the patient's bloodstream more quickly than this could harm the patient.

Not all patients with T-cell lymphoma qualify for treatment with romidepsin. Patients with cutaneous lymphoma may be given this medication after a different type of systemic therapy has been used and those with peripheral lymphoma may be given romidepsin if any other type of treatment has been tried. It is possible that this drug will prove effecting in treating other groups of patients, though as of 2011, studies have not been released proving this.

Gastrointestinal side effects are quite common in patients who are receiving romidepsin, though this type of side effect is a common feature of many cancer treatments. Nausea and vomiting occurs in nearly half of all patients. Severe tiredness is also quite common during treatment. In the first month after treatment, patients are also at an increased risk for developing infections, including pneumonia, which can be life threatening if not treated promptly.

One of the major concerns for patients taking romidepsin is that it kills many healthy blood cells. Patients often experience a drop in white and red blood cells as well as in platelets. During treatment, a patient needs to be monitored closely to make sure that the number of these cells does not drop dangerously low. Infusions are often possible to make up for the loss of these vital cells. Patients may also be monitored to make sure that their heart beat is not adversely affected by treatment with romidepsin.

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