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Procarbazine

Procarbazine

Definition

Procarbazine is an anticancer agent that kills cancer cells, also known by the brand name Matulane. It has received approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of advanced Hodgkin's disease in combination with other anticancer drugs.

Purpose

Procarbazine is used in the treatment of various cancers, although the best established usage is with Hodgkin's disease. Other cancers in which procarbazine is sometimes used include other lymphomas, brain tumors, skin cancer, lung cancer, and multiple myeloma .

Description

Procarbazine is a cytotoxic drug, which means that it kills cancer cells. Procarbazine works by interfering with way the DNA and RNA in cells produce proteins by binding to it in the cells.

Recommended dosage

Procarbazine is often given at a dose of 60 to 100 mg per square meter of body surface area for ten to fourteen days of each course of therapy. In addition, patients who have had pre-existing problems with liver, kidney, or bone marrow function may receive reduced doses.

Precautions

While on therapy with procarbazine, patients should not drink alcohol because it may interact with the drug to cause a flushed and hot sensation. Certain foods such as chocolate, fava beans, imported beer, Chianti wines, and ripe cheeses (camembert, cheddar, emmenthaler, stilton), caviar, pickled herring, fermented sausages (bologna, pepperoni, salami, summer sausage), should be avoided as they may cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure if eaten while receiving procarbazine.

Side effects

A carefully-monitored side effect of procarbazine is a decrease in the white blood cells that fight infection and the platelet cells that prevent bleeding. The most severe side effect is nausea and vomiting . Patients should adhere to the antiemetic regimen prescribed for them to prevent this side effect. There may be neurologic side effects such as confusion, sleepiness, depression , nightmares, agitation, and nervousness. Patients may have reproductive dysfunction.

Interactions

Procarbazine has numerous drug interactions. Therefore, it is important that patients alert their physician to all medications they are taking (prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal) prior to starting treatment with procarbazine or any other drug.

Bob Kirsch

KEY TERMS

Cytotoxic drug

An anticancer drug that acts by killing or preventing the division of cells.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

An acid found in all living cells that contains tiny bits of genetic information.

RNA (ribonucleic acid)

The tiny substances that transmit messages in the DNA to other elements in the cell.

Platelets

Components of the blood involved in clotting.

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procarbazine

procarbazine (proh-kar-bă-zeen) n. a drug that inhibits growth of cancer cells by preventing cell division and is administered by mouth to treat such cancers as Hodgkin's disease.

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