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Procarbazine is a medication primarily used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of certain types of cancer, such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Like any medication, it carries potential risks and side effects. Here is a brief overview of the risks associated with taking procarbazine:

  • Bone Marrow Suppression: Procarbazine can cause bone marrow suppression, leading to a decrease in blood cell production. This can result in an increased risk of infection, anemia, and bleeding.
  • Gastrointestinal Effects: Common gastrointestinal side effects include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Taking procarbazine with food may help alleviate some of these symptoms.
  • Central Nervous System Effects: Procarbazine may cause various central nervous system effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. Patients should avoid activities that require mental alertness until they know how the medication affects them.
  • Hypertensive Crisis: Procarbazine can interact with certain foods and beverages (such as aged cheeses, certain wines, and foods containing tyramine) and lead to a hypertensive crisis. Patients are usually advised to follow a specific diet while taking procarbazine to avoid this serious side effect.
  • Increased Risk of Secondary Cancers: Long-term use of procarbazine has been associated with an increased risk of developing secondary cancers.
  • Fertility Issues: Procarbazine may affect fertility, and both men and women are advised to use effective contraception during and after treatment.
  • Liver Function: Procarbazine can impact liver function, leading to elevated liver enzyme levels. Regular monitoring of liver function is often necessary during treatment.

It’s important to note that the benefits of procarbazine in treating cancer must be weighed against the potential risks. Patients should discuss their medical history and any concerns with their healthcare provider before starting procarbazine or any chemotherapy regimen. Additionally, close monitoring and communication with the healthcare team are crucial to managing and addressing potential side effects.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Procarbazine is a prescription medication used in the treatment of certain types of cancer, particularly Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease). It is an alkylating agent that works by interfering with the DNA synthesis of cancer cells, ultimately inhibiting their ability to grow and divide.

How should this medicine be used?

The specific details of how procarbazine should be used can vary based on the patient’s condition, overall health, and the type of cancer being treated. It is crucial to follow the prescribing doctor’s instructions and the medication guide provided with the drug. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Dosage: The dosage of procarbazine will be determined by the treating oncologist based on factors such as the patient’s weight, overall health, and the type and stage of cancer. The medication is usually taken orally in the form of capsules.
  • Frequency: Procarbazine is typically taken once a day, either on an empty stomach or with food, as directed by the doctor. It is important to maintain a consistent schedule and not miss any doses.
  • Avoidance of Certain Foods and Beverages: Procarbazine interacts with foods and beverages containing tyramine, which can lead to a potentially dangerous increase in blood pressure. Patients taking procarbazine are often advised to avoid foods such as aged cheese, red wine, beer, and certain types of meats. The doctor will provide a specific list of foods to avoid.
  • Monitoring: Regular blood tests and medical check-ups are often necessary during procarbazine treatment to monitor blood cell counts and overall health.
  • Special Precautions: It is crucial for patients to inform their healthcare provider about any other medications, supplements, or herbal products they are taking, as some substances may interact with procarbazine.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Procarbazine can harm an unborn baby, so it is important to inform the doctor if the patient is pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Breastfeeding is generally not recommended during procarbazine treatment.

It’s important to note that procarbazine is a potent medication with potential side effects and interactions, so only a qualified healthcare professional can determine if it is appropriate for a specific individual and provide personalized usage instructions. Always consult with the prescribing doctor or oncologist for accurate and tailored guidance on procarbazine use.

Other uses for this medicine

Procarbazine is primarily used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but it may also be prescribed for other types of cancer. Some of the other cancers for which procarbazine may be used include certain brain tumors, lung cancer, and other lymphomas. However, its use in these conditions would depend on the specific circumstances and the judgment of the treating oncologist.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special precautions should be taken when using procarbazine, and it’s important to discuss these with the prescribing healthcare provider. Here are some general precautions to consider:

  • Allergies: Inform your doctor if you are allergic to procarbazine or any other medications. This is important for avoiding any potential allergic reactions.
  • Medical History: Provide a detailed medical history, especially if you have a history of certain medical conditions such as liver or kidney problems, bone marrow disorders, or a history of seizures.
  • Interactions with Other Medications: Procarbazine can interact with a variety of medications, including certain antidepressants and medications that affect blood pressure. It’s crucial to inform your doctor about all medications, supplements, and herbal products you are currently taking to avoid potentially harmful interactions.
  • Blood Cell Counts: Procarbazine can affect blood cell counts, leading to a decrease in white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Regular blood tests will be required to monitor these levels, and adjustments to the dosage may be made if necessary.
  • Avoiding Tyramine-containing Foods: As mentioned earlier, procarbazine can interact with tyramine-containing foods, leading to a potentially dangerous increase in blood pressure. Patients should follow dietary restrictions and avoid certain foods and beverages as advised by their healthcare provider.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Procarbazine can harm an unborn baby, so it is important to use effective contraception during treatment and inform the doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Breastfeeding is generally not recommended during procarbazine treatment.
  • Liver Function: Procarbazine may affect liver function, and monitoring of liver enzymes may be necessary during treatment.
  • Seizure Risk: Procarbazine may lower the seizure threshold, so individuals with a history of seizures or conditions that may predispose them to seizures should use procarbazine with caution.

Always follow your doctor’s instructions and attend regular check-ups to monitor for any potential side effects or complications during procarbazine treatment. If you have any concerns or experience unusual symptoms, contact your healthcare provider promptly.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

  • Tyramine-Restricted Diet: Follow the dietary restrictions provided by your healthcare provider to prevent a hypertensive crisis. This typically involves avoiding certain foods and beverages that contain high levels of tyramine.
  • Consistent Diet: Try to maintain a consistent diet, as changes in your diet can affect how your body metabolizes procarbazine.
  • Hydration: Stay well-hydrated unless otherwise advised by your healthcare provider. Drinking plenty of fluids can help minimize certain side effects.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Procarbazine, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take It as Soon as Possible: If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed one and continue with your regular dosing schedule.
  • Do Not Double Dose: Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. Taking extra medication can increase the risk of side effects.
  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: If you have questions or concerns about missed doses, contact your healthcare provider for guidance. They may provide specific instructions based on your treatment plan.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Procarbazine, like many chemotherapy medications, can cause a range of side effects. It’s important to note that not everyone will experience the same side effects, and the severity can vary from person to person. Additionally, the side effects may depend on the specific type and stage of cancer being treated, as well as the individual’s overall health. Common side effects of procarbazine include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: Procarbazine can cause nausea and vomiting. Your healthcare provider may prescribe anti-nausea medications to help manage these symptoms.
  • Bone Marrow Suppression: Procarbazine may affect the bone marrow, leading to a decrease in the production of blood cells. This can result in an increased risk of infections, anemia, and bleeding. Regular blood tests are often performed to monitor blood cell counts.
  • Increased Sensitivity to Light: Some individuals taking procarbazine may experience increased sensitivity to sunlight, leading to sunburn more easily. It is advisable to use sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors.
  • Changes in Blood Pressure: Procarbazine can interact with certain foods and beverages containing tyramine, leading to an increase in blood pressure. This can result in a hypertensive crisis. Avoiding tyramine-rich foods is essential during procarbazine treatment.
  • Liver Function Changes: Procarbazine may affect liver function, leading to elevated liver enzymes. Regular monitoring may be necessary.
  • Neurological Effects: Procarbazine may cause neurological effects, including confusion, dizziness, and hallucinations. Seizures have also been reported, particularly in individuals with a history of seizures.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to procarbazine, such as rash, itching, or swelling. Seek medical attention if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction.
  • Reproductive and Fertility Issues: Procarbazine may affect reproductive function and fertility. It is important to discuss family planning and fertility preservation options with your healthcare provider before starting treatment.

It’s crucial to report any side effects or concerns to your healthcare provider promptly. They can provide guidance on managing side effects, adjust your treatment plan if necessary, or recommend supportive care measures. In some cases, the benefits of the treatment in controlling or eliminating cancer may outweigh the potential side effects. Always communicate openly with your healthcare team to ensure the best possible care and management of side effects during procarbazine treatment.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and Disposal of procarbazine:


  • Temperature: Store procarbazine at room temperature, away from heat and moisture.
  • Container: Keep the medication in its original container with the lid tightly closed.
  • Protect from Light: Some medications can be sensitive to light, so it’s advisable to store procarbazine in a container that protects it from light exposure.
  • Keep Out of Reach of Children and Pets: Store the medication in a secure location to prevent accidental ingestion by children or pets.


  • Follow Local Regulations: Dispose of unused or expired medications according to local regulations. Many communities have specific guidelines for safe drug disposal.
  • Take-Back Programs: Check if there are any drug take-back programs or collection sites in your area where you can safely dispose of medications.
  • Do Not Flush: Do not flush medications down the toilet unless explicitly instructed to do so by specific disposal instructions or local authorities.

In case of emergency/overdose

  • Seek Medical Attention: If you suspect an overdose or experience severe side effects, seek immediate medical attention. Call emergency services or your local poison control center.
  • Symptoms of Overdose: Symptoms of a procarbazine overdose may include severe nausea and vomiting, confusion, seizures, and other neurological symptoms.

What other information should I know?

  • Regular Monitoring: During procarbazine treatment, regular monitoring is essential. This may include blood tests to assess blood cell counts, liver function, and other parameters.
  • Inform Healthcare Providers: Keep your healthcare providers informed about all medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking. This helps prevent potential drug interactions.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Inform your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. Procarbazine can harm an unborn baby.
  • Sun Protection: Due to increased sensitivity to sunlight, use sunscreen and protective clothing when exposed to the sun.
  • Dietary Restrictions: Follow dietary restrictions, especially avoiding tyramine-rich foods, to prevent potential interactions and blood pressure issues.

Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and guidelines for the safe use, storage, and disposal of procarbazine. If you have specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to consult with your healthcare team for personalized advice and information.

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