Procarbazine - oral
Procarbazine - oral
This medication is used to treat Hodgkin's disease (also known as Hodgkin's lymphoma). Procarbazine belongs to a class of drugs known as alkylating agents. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.
This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
This drug may also be used for other types of cancer (such as brain tumor).
See also Precautions and Drug Interactions sections.
Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking procarbazine and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication as directed by your doctor, usually once or twice daily. It is usually taken for a 2-week period, then stopped for a time and repeated. This is called a treatment cycle. Do not chew or crush the capsules before swallowing. To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, body size, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.
To prevent a very serious high blood pressure reaction, it is very important that you follow a special diet recommended by your doctor or dietician to limit your intake of tyramine while you are taking this medicine. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in tyramine, including aged cheeses, dried/aged meats and sausages (such as salami, liverwurst), preserved fish (such as pickled herring), products that contain large amounts of yeast (such as bouillon cubes, powdered soup/gravy, homemade or sourdough bread), fermented foods (such as sauerkraut, kim chee), most soybean products (such as soy sauce, tofu), broad/fava beans, red wine, sherry, tap beers, and vermouth. Consult your doctor or dietician for more details and a complete list of other foods that contain tyramine which you should limit or avoid. See also Side Effects section.
Do not stop taking this medication, even if you have nausea. If you vomit soon after taking a dose, contact your doctor right away for instructions.
Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, trouble sleeping, muscle/joint pain, or darkening of the skin may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Eating several small meals, not eating before treatment, or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.
People using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
This medication may lower your ability to fight infections. This may make you more likely to get a serious (rarely fatal) infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills).
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, such as:
This drug may rarely cause an attack of extremely high blood pressure (hypertensive crisis), which may be fatal. Many drug and food interactions can increase this risk (see How to Use and Drug Interactions sections). Stop taking procarbazine and get medical help right away if any of these serious side effects occur: severe headache, fast/slow/irregular/pounding heartbeat, chest pain, neck stiffness/soreness, severe nausea/vomiting, sweating/clammy skin (sometimes with fever), widened pupils, vision changes (such as double/blurred vision), sudden sensitivity to light (photophobia).
This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms:
Very rarely, people with cancer who are treated with this type of medication have developed other cancers (such as leukemia). Your risk is greater if you have had certain types of chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Talk with your doctor for more details.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, such as:
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Before taking procarbazine, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Avoid alcoholic drinks and products while taking this medication because severe stomach upset/cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, and flushing may occur.
Avoid smoking while using this medication. Smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer while using this drug. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/redness.
Procarbazine can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially shaking (tremors), loss of consciousness, or seizures.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using procarbazine. Procarbazine may harm an unborn baby. Ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication. If you become pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication.
It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
See also How to Use section.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug are:
The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin. Examples include street drugs such as MDMA/ "ecstasy," St. John's wort, certain antidepressants (including maprotiline, mirtazapine, SSRIs such as fluoxetine/paroxetine, SNRIs such as duloxetine/venlafaxine, tricyclics such as amitriptyline/doxepin), among others. The risk of serotonin syndrome/toxicity may be more likely when you start or increase the dose of these drugs.
Some products can interact with procarbazine if you take them together, or even if you take them weeks before or after taking procarbazine. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you take anything in the list of products that may interact with this drug, or any of the products that increase serotonin, within 2 weeks before or after taking procarbazine. Also tell them if you have taken fluoxetine within 5 weeks before starting procarbazine. Ask your doctor how much time to wait between starting or stopping any of these drugs and starting procarbazine.
Taking other MAO inhibitors with this medication may cause a serious (possibly fatal) drug interaction. Do not take any other MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, rasagiline, safinamide, selegiline, tranylcypromine) during treatment with this medication. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before and after treatment with this medication. Ask your doctor when to start or stop taking this medication.
Before using procarbazine, report the use of drugs that may increase the risk of extremely high blood pressure (hypertensive crisis) when combined with procarbazine, including herbal products (such as ephedra/ma huang), allergy and cough-and-cold products (including dextromethorphan, decongestants such as phenylephrine/pseudoephedrine), and stimulants (such as amphetamines, ephedrine, epinephrine, phenylalanine). Procarbazine should not be used with any of these medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness including alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), and narcotic pain relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone).
Check the labels on all your medicines (such as allergy or cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as complete blood counts, kidney/liver/lung function) should be done before you start taking this medication and while you are taking it. Keep all medical and lab appointments.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised February 2019.
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