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Dacarbazine (DTIC)

Find out what dacarbazine is, how you have it and other important information about taking dacarbazine. 

Dacarbazine (also called DTIC) is a chemotherapy drug. You might have it as part of your treatment for:

  • melanoma
  • soft tissue sarcoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • a childhood cancer called neuroblastoma

How it works

Dacarbazine belongs to a group of chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents. It works by sticking to the cancer cell's DNA and damaging it. 

The DNA is the genetic code that controls everything the cell does. If the DNA is damaged, the cancer cell cannot divide into 2 new cells. 

How you have it

Dacarbazine is a yellow liquid that you have into your bloodstream. You might have it as a slow injection or as a drip. It can take up to an hour to have.   

Into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

When you have it

You can have dacarbazine alone or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. Your treatment plan (regimen) will depend on the type, and the stage of your cancer. 

You usually have dacarbazine as a course of several cycles of treatment. A cycle of treatment is the time between 1 round of treatment and the start of another. This is to allow your body to recover. 

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 drinks

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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