What Dactinomycin is and what it is used for?
- Dactinomycin is classified as an anticancer antibiotic. This medicine inhibits DNA and RNA synthesis, thus stopping cell replication and eventually cause cell death. This cell damage slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Dactinomycin is used in combination with other medicines to treat Wilms' tumor, childhood rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma and testicular tumor. This medicine may also be used to treat gestational trophoblastic neoplasia and other cancers, as determined by your doctor.
How Dactinomycin is given?
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over several minutes.
What should I need to know while receiving Dactinomycin?
- An allergic reaction may happen during or shortly after the infusion, causing fever and chills, breathing difficulties, facial swelling, or hives. Tell your nurse right away if you feel unwell during an infusion.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 6 months after the treatment ends.
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- Dactinomycin may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- There are many drugs may affect how dactinomycin works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- You will have regular blood tests to check that you have enough blood cells and have adequate liver functions to receive dactinomycin. The timing and dosing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or other side effects.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of dactinomycin. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially liver or kidney problems.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Low red blood cell count
You may look pale and get tired more easily. Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty breathing or dizziness when changing positions.
- Low platelet count
You may have a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor know if you find red or purple dots on the skin, bleeding from the nose or gums, or any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain.
- Hair loss
It may begin 2-3 weeks after your first treatment. Hair growth should return after treatment has finished.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
Try to pace yourself and rest as much as possible. Seek medical advice if fatigue does not go away when you rest and sleep.
- Mouth sores
Your doctor may give you medicines that help you feel better. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve diarrhea.
- Muscle pain
Talk to the doctor if the pain is bothering you, they can give you medicine to help ease pain.
Less common side effects
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Skin changes
Symptoms include darkening of the skin, itching, and rash. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have. Your doctor can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
- Changes in the liver functions
Dactinomycin can affect how your liver works. Seek medical help right away if you have yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark or brown urine, or pain in abdomen, as these can be signs of liver toxicity.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day during treatment can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarettes during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.
- Your skin may more sensitive to sunlight and may burn more easily during treatment. You should stay out of the sun. If you must go out in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.