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Chlorambucil (marketed as Leukeran by GlaxoSmithKline) is a chemotherapy drug that has been mainly used in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is a nitrogen mustard alkylating agent and can be given orally.
It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.
Chlorambucil's current use is mainly in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, as it is well tolerated by most patients, though chlorambucil has been largely replaced by fludarabine as first-line treatment in younger patients. It can be used for treating some types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Waldenström macroglobulinemia, polycythemia vera, trophoblastic neoplasms, and ovarian carcinoma. Moreover, it also has been used as an immunosuppressive drug for various autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, such as nephrotic syndrome.
Bone marrow suppression (anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia) is the most commonly occurring side effect of chlorambucil. Withdrawn from the drug, this side effect is typically reversible. Like many alkylating agents, chlorambucil has been associated with the development of other forms of cancer.
Less commonly occurring side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal Distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and oral ulcerations).
- Central Nervous System: Seizures, tremors, muscular twitching, confusion, agitation, ataxia, and hallucinations.
- Skin reactions
- Hair Loss
- Takimoto CH, Calvo E. "Principles of Oncologic Pharmacotherapy" in Pazdur R, Wagman LD, Camphausen KA, Hoskins WJ (Eds) Cancer Management: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 11 ed. 2008.
- "WHO Model List of EssentialMedicines" (PDF). World Health Organization. October 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- Rai KR, Peterson BL, Appelbaum FR, Kolitz J, Elias L, Shepherd L, Hines J, Threatte GA, Larson RA, Cheson BD, Schiffer CA (2000). "Fludarabine compared with chlorambucil as primary therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.". N Engl J Med 343 (24): 1750–7. doi:10.1056/NEJM200012143432402. PMID 11114313.