Procarbazine is a type of chemotherapy drug. It is a treatment for a number of different cancer types.
You pronounce procarbazine as proh-kar-buh-zeen.
You usually have it with other cancer drugs, but you can sometimes have it on its own. Your treatment plan depends on your cancer type.
How does procarbazine work?
Procarbazine destroys quickly dividing cells, such as cancer cells.
How do you have procarbazine?
You take procarbazine as capsules. You swallow the capsules whole with a glass of water. You can take them with or without food.
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Talk to your healthcare team before you stop taking or miss a dose of a cancer drug.
How often do you have procarbazine?
You usually have procarbazine as a course of several cycles of treatment. This means that you have the drug and then a rest to allow your body to recover.
Each cycle varies depending on what type of cancer you have. Your doctor or nurse will tell you more about this.
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.
What are the side effects of procarbazine?
How often and how severe the side effects are can vary from person to person. They also depend on what other treatments you're having.
When to contact your team
Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will go through the possible side effects. They will monitor you during treatment and check how you are at your appointments. Contact your advice line as soon as possible if:
- you have severe side effects
- your side effects aren’t getting any better
- your side effects are getting worse
Early treatment can help manage side effects better.
We haven't listed all the side effects here. Remember it is very unlikely that you will have all of these side effects. But you might have some of them at the same time.
Common side effects
These side effects happen in more than 10 in 100 people (more than 10%). You might have one or more of them. They include:
Feeling or being sick
Feeling or being sick is usually well controlled with anti sickness medicines. Avoiding fatty or fried foods, eating small meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water, and relaxation techniques can all help.
It is important to take anti sickness medicines as prescribed even if you don’t feel sick. It is easier to prevent sickness rather than treating it once it has started.
This usually improves after the first few days.
Loss of appetite
You might lose your appetite for various reasons whilst having cancer treatment. Sickness, taste changes or tiredness can put you off food and drinks.
Other side effects
There isn't enough information to work out how often these side effects might happen. You might have one or more of them. They include:
- increased risk of getting an infection due to low white blood cell count
- bruising and bleeding more easily due to a low number of platelets
- lack of energy (lethargy)
- inflammation of the lung tissue - you may be short of breath, cough, or have a burning feeling in your chest
- liver changes – including yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice). You will have regular tests to check how well your liver works
- an allergic reaction that can cause a rash, shortness of breath, redness or swelling of the face and dizziness - some allergic reactions can be life threatening, alert your nurse or doctor if you notice any of these symptoms
- a rare cancer of the blood called acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) when taken as part of MOPP chemotherapy combination
Coping with side effects
We have more information about side effects and tips on how to cope with them.
What else do you need to know?
Other medicines, food and drink
Cancer drugs can interact with medicines, herbal products, and some food and drinks. We are unable to list all the possible interactions that may happen. An example is grapefruit or grapefruit juice which can increase the side effects of certain drugs.
Tell your healthcare team about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Also let them know about any other medical conditions or allergies you may have.
Pregnancy and contraception
It is unknown whether treatment may or may not harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment. Let your team know straight away if you or your partner falls pregnant while having treatment.
Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception you can use during treatment. Ask how long you should use it before starting treatment and after treatment has finished.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.
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 might be able to store sperm before starting treatment. And women might be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue. But these services are not available in every hospital, so you would need to ask your doctor about this.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment. For example, if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and one of the shingles vaccines called Zostavax.
You can have:
- other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the best time to have it in relation to your cancer treatment
Members of your household who are aged 5 years or over are also able to have the COVID-19 vaccine. This is to help lower your risk of getting COVID-19 while having cancer treatment and until your
Contact with others who have had immunisations - You can be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections. Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as the oral typhoid vaccine. Sometimes people who have had the live shingles vaccine can get a shingles type rash. If this happens they should keep the area covered.
If your immune system is severely weakened, you should avoid contact with children who have had the flu vaccine as a nasal spray as this is a live vaccine. This is for 2 weeks following their vaccination.
Babies have the live rotavirus vaccine. The virus is in the baby’s poo for about 2 weeks and could make you ill if your immunity is low. Get someone else to change their nappies during this time if you can. If this isn't possible, wash your hands well after changing their nappy.
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.