cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Cancer 101: Cancer Explained

What is cyclophosphamide, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Cyclophosphamide is a drug that is used primarily for treating several types of cancer. In order to work, cyclophosphamide first is converted by the liver into two chemicals, acrolein and phosphoramide. Acrolein and phosphoramide are the active compounds, and they slow the growth of cancer cells by interfering with the actions of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) within the cancerous cells. Unfortunately, normal cells also are affected, and this results in serious side effects. In addition to slowing the growth of cancerous cells, cyclophosphamide also suppresses the immune system and is referred to as immunosuppressive.
  • The FDA approved Cytoxan in November 1959.

What brand names are available for cyclophosphamide?

None

Is cyclophosphamide available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for cyclophosphamide?

Yes

What are the uses for cyclophosphamide?

  • Cyclophosphamide is used alone for the treatment of several types of cancers, but often in combination with other drugs to treat breast cancer, leukemia and ovarian cancer.
  • It also is approved for treating nephrotic syndrome (a disease of the kidneys) in children.
  • Unapproved uses include the treatment of

What are the side effects of cyclophosphamide?

Side effects of cyclophosphamide include:

Cyclophosphamide causes kidney failure, and it also may affect the heart and lungs. Cyclophosphamide suppresses production of blood cells from the bone marrow, including white blood cells (leukopenia), red blood cells (anemia) and platelets (thrombocytopenia). Leukopenia reduces the ability of the body to fight infection, thrombocytopenia impairs the ability of blood to clot, and anemia reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen. Cyclophosphamide suppresses the immune system which may result in serious and sometimes fatal infections. Severe allergic reactions also may occur. Cyclophosphamide may cause inflammation of the urinary bladder with bleeding (hemorrhagic cystitis). This can result in lower abdominal pain from the bladder, problems urinating due to blood clots, and anemia due to loss of blood.

Which drugs or supplements interact with cyclophosphamide?

Allopurinol (Zyloprim) enhances the ability of cyclophosphamide to reduce production of blood cells from the bone marrow.

Cyclophosphamide increases the occurrence of heart failure that is caused by doxorubicin (Adriamycin), increases the action of blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), and decreases the effectiveness of quinolone antibiotics ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR).

Quick GuidePancreatic Cancer Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Is cyclophosphamide safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Use of cyclophosphamide during pregnancy may affect the fetus. Fetuses exposed to cyclophosphamide may be born with missing fingers, toes and a poorly-developed heart. Cyclophosphamide should not be administered during pregnancy.
  • Cyclophosphamide is excreted in breast milk and could cause serious problems in the nursing infant.

What else should I know about cyclophosphamide?

What preparations of cyclophosphamide are available?

  • Powder for intravenous injection: 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2000 mg)
  • Tablets: 25, 50 mg.

How should I keep cyclophosphamide stored?

  • Powder and tablets should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
  • Solutions prepared with bacteriostatic water are usable up to 24 hours if stored at room temperature and up to 6 days if stored in the refrigerator.
  • DOSING: The usual initial dose of cytoxan for adults and children is 40-50 mg/kg administered intravenously over 2-5 days in divided doses. This dose may repeated at 2-4 week intervals. The usual oral dose is 1-5 mg/kg daily. Subsequent maintenance doses are adjusted based on the response of the tumor to treatment and the side effects.

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Last Editorial Review: 6/17/2016

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Reviewed on 6/17/2016
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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