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Chemotherapy Supportive Care

Other names:

Prednisone Intensol, Prednisolone, Methylprednisolone

Often used for:

Leukemia, Lymphoma, Side effects of cancer treatments, Prevent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after hematopoietic cell transplant

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About Prednisone

Prednisone is a type of corticosteroid that is also used as a type of chemotherapy. This medicine may be given in the clinic, hospital, or at home. It is usually used in combination with other medicines.

Prednisone may also be used to treat inflammation, allergies and asthma, skin rashes, and adrenal gland problems.

The dose of prednisone will change as the patient grows. If families are concerned about a patient’s new tablet or dose, they should contact the pharmacy to make sure the patient is taking the right dose and tablet strength.

Urine and blood tests may be needed to check for high sugar levels. Blood tests may be needed to check potassium levels.

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May be taken as a liquid by mouth

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May be taken as a tablet by mouth

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects with Short-Term Treatment

  • Heartburn
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain (especially in the face and abdomen)
  • Water retention (can cause increased blood pressure)
  • Acne
  • Increased hair growth
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Decreased potassium levels
  • Stomach irritation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in personality or mood
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue or weakness 
  • Increased sweating
  • Eye problems (including cataracts and glaucoma)
  • Change in the normal menstrual cycle
  • Increased white blood cell count
  • Increased risk of infection

Not all patients who take prednisone 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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Possible Side Effects with Long-Term Treatment

Some patients may experience long-term or late effects of treatment that may continue or develop months or years after treatment ends. Possible long-term or late effects due to prednisone include:

  • Decreased muscle mass and muscle weakness
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Impaired growth
  • Thin, fragile skin
  • Osteoporosis
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Cataracts
  • Secondary cancers (Kaposi sarcoma)
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Tips for Families

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

  • Prednisone can hide a fever. Families should watch for signs of infection. Report signs of infection to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.
  • The care team may recommend a low-sodium, low sugar, high-protein diet. A nutritionist can suggest ways to make healthy food choices and manage increased appetite.
  • Patients may need to take a potassium supplement or eat foods high in potassium.
  • Patients should wash their face 2 times a day with soap and water to help prevent acne.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during treatment and for 6 months after completion of therapy. Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Prednisone at home:

  • Take with food or milk to decrease stomach problems.
  • For liquid prednisone, use the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Store prednisone at room temperature.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe handling and disposal.