What is Sprycel&Reg;?

H. Lo

Sprycel®, also known as dasatinib, is a protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitor generally used to treat two types of leukemia — chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This medication stops the spread of leukemia cancer cells by slowing down their growth rate. Usually, Sprycel® is prescribed because other medications have failed to be effective or beneficial treatments. In addition, Sprycel® is used if side effects from other cancer medications are too severe.

Sprycel may be used to treat children afflicted with leukemia.
Sprycel may be used to treat children afflicted with leukemia.

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the white blood cells. CML, one of the main types of leukemia, is bone marrow cancer caused by an excess of white blood cells. This excess is caused by the creation of an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. ALL, the main type of leukemia found in children, is cancer caused by a rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells. In both types of leukemia, these white blood cells multiply and overcrowd normal cells. CML is found mostly in adults, and two-thirds of ALL cases are found in children.

Grapefruit can negatively interact with Sprycel®.
Grapefruit can negatively interact with Sprycel®.

Prior to taking Sprycel®, allergies, health conditions and other prescription medications should be discussed with a doctor. Some conditions that should be disclosed are lactose intolerance, liver disease and long QT syndrome (LQTS). In addition, pregnant women should not take Sprycel®, because the medication might harm the unborn child.

When prescribed Sprycel®, a person should take the required dosage exactly as instructed by his or her doctor. The medication comes in tablet form and should be swallowed whole. Intake of a crushed or chewed tablet might result in an uneven release of the drug into the body. In addition, it is dangerous for one to handle a broken tablet, because it might come into contact with the person's eyes, mouth, nose or skin. This medication can be taken with or without food, but grapefruit products can negatively interfere with the medication, so a person should to talk with his or her doctor before mixing the two.

Side effects of Sprycel® can vary. Less serious side effects include headache, nausea, tiredness, diarrhea and skin rashes. Though these symptoms are not considered severe, if they persist, a visit or call to the doctor might be needed. More serious side effects that require immediate attention include fever, bloody stools and vomit that resembles coffee grounds. Also, because Sprycel® reduces the number of cells that help fight infections, it should be taken into consideration that a person who takes the medication can become sick easily.

Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck is a symptom of leukemia.
Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck is a symptom of leukemia.

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