Temozolomide

Temozolomide is in a class of medicines called alkylating agents; it works by killing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body.

Overview

Temozolomide is a medication used for treating certain kinds of brain cancer and tumors. This medication may also be used to treat other kinds of cancer such as bone cancer. The drug belongs to a class of drugs known as alkylating agents and works by killing cancerous cells. This medication is taken by mouth (orally) and comes in capsule form. It’s usually taken once per day in the evening before bedtime. Cancer patients should read the label keenly to understand how to safely take this medication.

The doctor should be able to provide you with a list of common as well as severe side effects expected from taking this medication. Tell your doctor about any side effect you experience while taking this medication. Remember patients usually experience side effects differently, meaning what you’re experience may be totally different to what another cancer patient is going through. Temozolomide can only be prescribed by the doctor.

Conditions treated:

  • Certain types of brain cancer
  • Other cancer types like bone cancer

Type of medicine:

  • Alkylating agents

Side effects:

Taking temozolomide will produce certain side effects. However, it’s crucial to know that not all unwanted effects listed below are experienced by every patient. Each and every patient interacts with medication differently. The doctor can help you prevent or minimize most side effects resulting from taking this medication. Also, most side effects should ease once the body adjusts to the medication. If the following symptoms do not go away after some time, talk to your doctor for further help.

Common side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sores in the mouth and throat
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Hair loss
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Changes in vision

Delayed effects:

  • Swelling (edema)
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Weakness to one side of body
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Skin rash
  • Itching

Taking this medication may cause serious side effects. If you notice any of these unwanted effects, stop taking this medication and call your doctor as soon as possible so that you receive urgent medical attention. You may call 911 if the symptoms are severe and your doctor can’t be reached.

  • Red or black, tarry stools
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Pink, red, or dark brown urine
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Seizures
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Rash
  • Unable to move one side of the body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Decreased urination
  • Stomach pain

Taking temozolomide could increase your chances of contracting other types of cancers. Consult with your doctor about taking temozolomide and consider the risks of involved. Temozolomide may cause other unwanted effects not listed here. Contact your doctor if you experience any unusual side effects while taking this medication.

Dosage:

Temozolomide is taken orally and comes in the form of a capsule. This medication is normally taken once per day at night before going to bed. The medication should be taken at the same time each day. Some kinds of brain tumors require temozolomide to be taken daily for a period of 42-49 days. A 28 day break is needed before this medication is taken for another 5 days in a row. Afterwards, another 23 day break is required.

The doctor will assess a patent's condition before deciding on how many treatment cycles one should follow. The length of the treatment usually depends on the condition of the patient, type of cancer and how one is responding to treatment.

Take temozolomide as instructed by your physician. Don’t use more or less of the medication; only follow the dosage schedule of the doctor. Read the prescription label keenly and consult your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand some instructions.

Temozolomide is taken by mouth and comes in capsule form. The capsules vary in strength, meaning the doctor has to plan your dose by combining different capsules. Ensure that you remember what each capsule looks like and how many capsules you should take per day. Don’t make assumptions while taking this medication, always consult your doctor if you have any questions. Taking the right dose as instructed by the doctor is the only way to go if you want this medication to be effective.

Don’t touch the capsules with your bare hands if the capsules are leaking or broken. In addition, do not breathe in the powder from the capsule. Wear rubber gloves when handling this medication to avoid the powder from coming in to contact with your skin. In case the capsule powder touches your skin, wash your hands thoroughly with water. The capsules should be taken as a whole, do not chew or crush them. Take this medication with a glass of water. If you vomit after taking this medicine, inform your doctor right away. Do not take another dose of this medication on the same day.

Your doctor may adjust your dose or delay your treatment for a period of time depending on the side effects you experience and how you respond to treatment. Inform your doctor how you are feeling during treatment. Do not stop taking this medication prior to speaking with your doctor. This medication may also be used to treat other cancer types like bone cancer.

If you miss a dose, talk to your doctor for advice. Never take two doses to compensate for the missed dose.

In case of overdose

In case of overdose, contact your local poison control organization as soon as possible. If the victim happens to collapse or he or she stops breathing, call 911 for quick medical intervention.

Symptoms of overdosing on Temozolomide may include:

  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Red or dark brown urine
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting material that resembles coffee grounds
  • Fever
  • Sore throat

Drug interactions:

Drug interactions can produce unwanted effects. As such, two drugs that interact with each other should never be used together. However, there are situations where the doctor might be forced to prescribe to you drugs that interact with each other.

Some of the common medications that interact with this medicine include:

  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Avastin (bevacizumab)
  • Dexamethasone Intensol (dexamethasone)
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Dilantin (phenytoin)
  • Keppra (levetiracetam)
  • Lasix (furosemide)
  • Keppra XR (levetiracetam)
  • Norco (acetaminophen / hydrocodone)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Synthroid (levothyroxine)
  • Tegretol (carbamazepine)
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
  • Vimpat (lacosamide)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Zofran (ondansetron)

Using this medication while suffering from the following diseases may cause interactions. The doctor may order that you stop using this medication if you are found to be suffering from the following conditions:

  • Urticaria
  • Myelosuppression
  • Hepatic Impairment
  • Renal Impairment

The mentioned drugs above are only part of the many other medications that may potentially interact with temozolomide. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for a full list of all medications that interact with temozolomide. The drug manufacturer may also provide helpful information about this subject.

Warnings:

Tell your physician if you are allergic to this medication or any of its ingredients. The doctor will not prescribe this medication if it may cause an allergic reaction. Some allergic reactions can be quite severe so it’s better to stay away from this medication if it causes you to develop an allergy.

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking while using this medication. You should also include a list of all vitamins, herbal products and nutritional supplements you are taking or intend to take.

Inform your doctor if you have any liver ailment. Taking temozolomide with such a condition may make your health worse.

Taking temozolomide may affect sperm production in males. This doesn’t however mean that a patient taking this medication cannot get someone pregnant. Temozolomide has been found to be harmful to the fetus, so you shouldn’t take this medication if you are pregnant. Use safer forms of birth control if you are taking this medicine and ask your doctor to recommend the best birth control method. Also, you should not breastfeed while using this medicine.

Storage:

This medication should be kept safely in a container and away from the reach of children. Ensure you close the container tightly and store the medication at room temperature. Avoid storing this medication in the bathroom because such a location may have too much moisture or heat.

Unwanted medications should be disposed of safely so that other people including children cannot come in contact with this medication. You shouldn’t dispose of this medication via your drain or toilet; instead search for your local take-back program.

Summary:

Temozolomide is a drug used for treating certain brain cancer conditions. The medication is also used for treating other types of cancers like bone cancer. This drug is classified as an alkylating agent and functions by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells.

Temozolomide is taken orally and comes in the form of capsules. Cancer patients are supposed to take this medication once per day at bed time. If the doctor has prescribed this medication to you, ensure that you follow all the instructions as ordered. Do not take more or less of this medication at any period without prior the permission of the doctor. Taking this medicine as prescribed by your doctor and following all the dosage rules can make it effective.

Taking this medication comes with a number of side effects. Some of the common side effects you’ll likely experience while taking this medication include: nausea and vomiting, fatigue, headache, constipation, loss of appetite, pale skin, sores in the mouth and throat, lack of energy, fainting, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sleepiness, hair loss, itching, memory problems, skin rash, diarrhea, weakness to one side of the body and changes in vision.

Tell your doctor about all prescription and non-prescription drugs you are currently taking or intend to use while taking temozolomide. The doctor will provide you with a list of medications you cannot take while using temozolomide. Also, he or she will provide you with a comprehensive list of precautions to follow while taking temozolomide.

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Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017
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