Skip to main content

Pentostatin (Injection)

Pentostatin (pen-toe-STAT-in)

Treats a certain type of cancer called hairy cell leukemia.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to pentostatin or if you are pregnant.

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.
  • A nurse or other health provider will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein.

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 are also using allopurinol (Zyloprim®) or any other cancer medicines such as carmustine (BICNU®), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®, Neosar®), etoposide (Vepesid®, VP-16®), or vidarabine (Vira-A®).
  • You should not use aspirin or any product that has aspirin in it (such as some cold medicines) unless you have talked to your doctor.
  • You should not use fludarabine (Fludara®) while you are using this medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you have been treated with steroids, radiation, or other cancer medicines.
  • 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.
  • Do not breastfeed while you are being given this medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, low blood pressure, kidney stones, gout, or any type of infection.
  • If you develop a skin rash or any allergic reaction to this medicine, stop using the medicine and check with your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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
  • Blood in your urine or stools.
  • Confusion, extreme tiredness, fainting, or drowsiness.
  • Cough, fever, chills, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, or body aches.
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Shortness of breath or troubled breathing.
  • Skin wound that does not heal or looks infected.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, feet, or face.
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.

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

  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, gas, or stomach pain or upset.
  • Headache.
  • Mild skin rash or itching.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Nervousness, depression, or trouble sleeping.
  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the needle is placed.
  • Tooth pain, swelling in your gums, or mouth sores.

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

Copyright © 1984- Thomson Micromedex. All rights reserved.

Thomson & A.D.A.M