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Chlorambucil (Leukeran)

Find out what chlorambucil is, how you have it and other important information about having chlorambucil.

Chlorambucil is a chemotherapy drug and is also known by its brand name Leukeran.

It is used mainly to treat:

  • chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
  • low grade non Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma

How it works

Chlorambucil belongs to a group of drugs called alkylating agents. It works by sticking to one of the other cancer cell's DNA strands. DNA is the genetic code that is in the heart of all animal and plant cells. It controls everything the cell does. The cell cannot then divide into 2 new cells. 

How you have chlorambucil

Chlorambucil is a tablet. You should swallow the tablets whole with plenty of water. Take them half an hour to an hour before food. Keep them in the fridge but away from food. 

You must take tablets and capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

You usually have chemotherapy as a course of several cycles of treatment. Chlorambucil is sometimes given in combination with other chemotherapy drugs as well as in combination with steroids. 

The treatment plan for chlorambucil depends on which cancer you have. 

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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