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Dactinomycin (Injection)

Dactinomycin (dak-tin-oh-MYE-sin)

Treats different types of cancer.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

Do not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to dactinomycin or if you are pregnant. You should not receive this medicine if you have chickenpox or shingles (herpes zoster).

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Do not get this medicine in your eyes or on your skin. This medicine can be very harmful if it touches these areas or if it leaks out of the injection. If any of the medicine gets in your eyes, wash the eyes with water, saline, or a balanced salt irrigating eye solution for at least 15 minutes and check with your doctor right away. If any of the medicine gets in your skin, wash the affected part with water for at least 15 minutes and remove contaminated clothes and shoes. Check with your doctor right away. Destroy the contaminated clothes and clean the shoes thoroughly before you wear them again.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you receive other cancer medicines or treatments, including radiation.
  • This medicine may interfere with vaccines. Ask your doctor before you get a flu shot or any other vaccines.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, or any type of infection. Tell your doctor if you have been treated with radiation. Your doctor should know if you have recently been exposed to chickenpox or herpes.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of other tumors (including leukemia). Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about this.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Avoid people who are ill, and wash your hands often. Brush and floss your teeth gently, do not play rough sports, and be careful with sharp objects.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you notice any redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
  • Tell any doctor or dentist who treats you that you are using this medicine. This medicine may affect certain medical test results.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash
  • Burning, pain, redness, swelling, blistering, or skin changes where the needle is placed
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or upper stomach pain
  • Swelling, painful sores, or white patches in your mouth or throat
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness
  • Yellow skin or eyes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Mild nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
  • Mild skin rash or itching
  • Trouble swallowing

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 4/4/2014

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