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Drugs for Eosinophilic Leukemia

written by: Ms Lisa • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 2/10/2011

There are several eosinophilic leukemia drugs used to fight this disease. Let us explore what this disease is, what medications are used, how they work, and what side effects can occur.

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    What is Eosinophilic Leukemia?

    Before we discuss the eosinophilic leukemia drugs used in the treatment of this disease, let us get more of an understanding about this type of leukemia.

    Eosinophilic leukemia is a rare type of leukemia. This disease is when there are too many white blood cells (the eosinophilic type) in the bone marrow, other tissues, and blood. Though this is a highly rare disease, it is treatable.

    This disease often has no symptoms in the early stages and may go undetected for years before it is discovered through a blood test ordered by a physician. People with this disease may experience fatigue, appetite loss, fever, weight loss, weakness, and muscle aches. Because these symptoms resemble other illnesses or diseases it is common for a physician to rule out other forms of conditions before this type of leukemia is found.

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    What Medications Are Used to Treat Eosinophilic Leukemia?

    Before an oncologist decides what medications to use in treating this disease, he will take in consideration the overall condition of the person that has been diagnosed and how the disease is affecting the person that needs treatment. This information will help to decide what drugs would be the best for each person individually.

    Here is a list of drugs that are commonly used to combat the disease of eosinophilic leukemia:

    Gleevec – Also known as Imatinib, this drug is a protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitor that blocks the cancerous cells from multiplying. This stops the spread of the cancer cells.

    Side Effects: The side effects of this medication may be diarrhea, constipation, gas, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, indigestion, joint pain, muscle cramps, depression, anxiety, night sweats, teary eyes, puffiness under the eyes, swelling of the feet, ankles and hands, weight gain, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, excessive tiredness or weakness, chills, fever, sore throat, bleeding or bruising, blood in stool, yellowing of skin or eyes, rash or blisters, fever, chest pain, increased urination, coughing up bloody mucus, fainting, insomnia, and fast irregular heartbeat.

    Hydroxyurea – Also known as Droxia or Hydrea, this drug is an antineoplastic agent that treats cancer by stopping or slowing down cancerous cells from growing.

    Side Effects: The side effects of this medication may be drowsiness, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, swelling of the feet, hands and lower legs, sores in the mouth or skin, foul odor substance from the skin, loss of feeling in an area of the body, rash and blue, purple, or black discoloration of the nails or skin.

    Cyclophosphamide – Also known as Clafen, Cytoxan, or Neosar, this drug is an alkylating agent. It slows down or stops the growth of the cancer cells.

    Side Effects: The side effects of this medication may be loss of appetite and weight, acne, blistering of the skin, thickened skin, thinning or brittle hair, fatigue, rash, nausea and vomiting, swelling of the feet or ankles, sore throat, shortness of breath, chills, dizziness, fever, congestion, cough, bleeding or bruising, black tarry stools, red urine or painful urination.

    Vincristine – Also known as Vincasar, this drug is a class of medication known as vinca alkaloids. It also slows down the growth or stops the cancer cells from growing.

    Side Effects: The side effects of this drug may be thinned or brittle hair, jaw pain, headache, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps or pain, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, mouth bleeding, difficulty walking, sore throat, vision problems, difficulty controlling the bladder, and change in bowel habits.

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    Important Note to Remember

    It is important for the person to remember when being prescribed eosinophilic leukemia drugs by their physician, to mention all allergies that they may have to any other medications. It is also important that they mention any other medications that they are taking. This information will help the doctor determine what medication to use to treat the condition that they have been diagnosed with.