Cyclophosphamide and Lupus
Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®) is a drug used to treat a number of cancers. It is also used for lupus treatment when major organs, such as the kidneys, are affected, and when severe inflammation has not responded to corticosteroids. In lupus, the immune system is too active. Cyclophosphamide slows down the immune system so that disease activity can be reduced.
Cyclophosphamide is a very powerful drug. It can have a number of effects on the body. As a result, it is important that you understand how it is used to treat your lupus. You will need to work closely with your doctor and nurse to make sure that the amount of the drug you are taking gives you the benefits you need with as few side effects as possible.
Possible Side Effects
These include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, mouth ulcers, fatigue, temporary hair loss, unusual bleeding or blood in the urine, shortness of breath, loss of menstrual periods, impotence, sterility, or signs of infection (such as increased temperature, sore throat, or flu symptoms).
- Do not take more than the recommended dose.
- Avoid exposure to infections. Stay away from crowds and people known to have colds, the flu, or other infections.
- Tell any nurse, doctor, or dentist who is taking care of you that you are taking cyclophosphamide for your lupus.
- WARNING! Do not take this drug if you suspect you are pregnant. Cyclophosphamide causes birth defects. You must use an effective birth control method while you are taking this medication. You should consider pregnancy only after treatment has been stopped and your doctor says you are healthy enough to become pregnant.
- Long-term therapy with cyclophosphamide may leave a woman unable to produce eggs, or a man unable to produce sperm. This means permanent sterility. If you want to have a baby in the future, talk to your doctor about the option of storing your eggs or sperm before beginning therapy.