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:
- 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.
You have blood tests before 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.
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 drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment.
Women must use reliable contraception during treatment. Men must use reliable contraception during treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
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.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
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 shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections
Avoid close contact with people who’ve recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.
This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.
You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened.
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.