Common Name: hydroxyurea
How does Hydrea work?Hydroxyurea belongs to the group of cancer-fighting medicines known as antineoplastics, and specifically to the group of antineoplastics known as antimetabolites. Another antimetabolite is cytarabine. Hydroxyurea fights cancer by preventing the growth of cancer cells, which eventually results in their destruction. It is usually used to treat certain types of cancers of the skin on the head and neck (excluding the lip) known as squamous cell carcinomas, cancer of the ovaries, and less often skin cancers known as melanomas and a certain type of cancer of the blood known as leukemia. Hydroxyurea is usually used at the same time as radiation therapy, as these two methods work together to kill cancer cells more effectively. It will take at least six weeks to determine whether treatment with hydroxyurea is effective. Your doctor may choose to use this medication for other conditions not listed here. If you're unsure why you are taking this medication, please ask your doctor.
How should I use Hydrea?The recommended dose of hydroxyurea varies according to the specific disease being treated, the response to therapy, the other medications used, whether radiation is being used at the same time, the stage of disease, and the body weight of the recipient. A typical dose for adults is 80 mg per kg body weight taken in one dose every third day. If radiation is also being administered, hydoxyurea dosing should start at least seven days before start of radiation and continue throughout and after treatment unless there are extreme side effects. Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs; if your doctor has recommended a dose different from the one given here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without talking to your doctor. It is important that you take this medicine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you cannot swallow capsules, you may empty the contents of the capsule into a glass of water and drink it immediately. Be very careful not to inhale the powder or let it come in contact with your skin or mucous membranes. If you spill the powder, wipe it up immediately with a damp towel and dispose of it along with the empty capsules. If you vomit shortly after taking the medicine, contact your doctor for instruction on whether to take more medication or not. If you miss a dose of this medication, call your doctor for instructions on how to proceed. Do not double-up on doses. Your doctor may want you to drink extra fluids while taking this medication in order to help you pass more fluid and protect your kidneys. As well as interfering with the genetic material DNA of cancer cells, hydroxyurea can interfere with some of your normal cells. This can cause a number of side effects such as mouth sores. Keep track of any side effects and report them to your doctor as suggested in the section "What side effects are possible with this medication?"
What form(s) does Hydrea come in?Hydroxyurea is available in capsules containing 500 mg hydroxyurea. Nonmedicinal ingredients include citric acid, dibasic sodium phosphate, lactose, and magnesium stearate. The capsule shell contains FD&C Blue No.2 and Red No.3, gelatin, sodium lauryl sulfate, titanium dioxide, and yellow iron oxide. This product does not contain starch, yeast, or gluten. Store at room temperature and protect from excessive heat and moisture (keep the dessicant and store in a tightly sealed bottle).
What should I NOT take with Hydrea?Hydroxyurea should not be used by anyone who: is sensitive or allergic to hydroxyurea or any of the ingredients has a very low white blood cell count has a very low platelet count has severe anemia is breast-feeding
Are there any other precautions or warnings for Hydrea?Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people with contagious infections and tell your doctor if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills. Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding. Gout: This medication increases the blood levels of uric acid which may increase the risk of gout. Anemia: This medication may worsen the symptoms of anemia. Occupational hazards: Hydroxyurea may cause drowsiness. Care should be taken if operating machinery or undertaking potentially hazardous activities. Pregnancy: There is a possibility of birth defect if either the male or female is using hydroxyurea at the time of conception, or if it is taken during pregnancy. Effective birth control should be practiced while using this medication. This medication may harm the baby if used during pregnancy. Tell the doctor immediately if you become pregnant while using this drug. Breast-feeding: Hydroxyurea is excreted in breast milk. Because of the risks associated with this drug, a decision should be made to stop breast-feeding or stop taking the drug, taking into account the importance of the medication to the mother.