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Brand names:


Often used for:

Leukemia, Lymphoma

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What is Nelarabine?

Nelarabine is a type of chemotherapy used to treat T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cells.

Patients will have regular blood draws to check blood counts and monitor liver and kidney function.

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Given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects

  • Low blood counts (may cause increased risk of infection, bleeding, anemia and/or fatigue)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling or weight gain
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Problems sleeping
  • Blurry vision
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver problems 
  • Seizures

Not all patients who take nelarabine will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • This medicine may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Patients should not drive or do anything that could be dangerous if they have these side effects.
  • While taking nelarabine, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. Patients should follow the care team’s instructions for appropriate fluid intake.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during treatment and for 3 months after completion of therapy.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Caregivers should follow instructions to avoid contact with patient body fluids which can contain the drug for several days after it is given.