Disease Information & Support


The Word:


Generic name Cytarabine
Pronunciation sy-TARE-a-been
Brand name(s), other common name(s) Cytosar-U®, cytosine arabinoside, ara-C
Drug type  Antimetabolite
How the drug is given Intravenously (IV) or by intramuscular (IM)
or subcutaneous (SC) injection

Cytarabine is FDA approved to prevent and treat leukemia that has spread to the meninges (the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord). It is also FDA approved for use with other drugs to treat acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia. This medicine may cause a temporary loss of hair in some people. After treatment with cytarabine has ended, normal hair growth should return.

Liposomal cytarabine (DepoCyt®) is given by intrathecal injection. It is FDA approved to treat lymphoma that has spread to the meninges.

Side effects needing medical attention: Fever, chills; sore throat; unusual bleeding or bruising; side or stomach pain; joint pain; numbness or tingling in fingers, toes or face; sores in mouth and on lips; swelling of feet and lower legs; tiredness; black, tarry stools; bone or muscle pain; chest pain; cough; difficulty in swallowing; fainting spells; general feeling of body discomfort or weakness; heartburn; irregular heartbeat; pain at the place of injection; reddened eyes; shortness of breath; rash; unusual decrease in urination or painful or difficult urination; yellowing of eyes and skin; lower back pain; pinhead-sized red spots on skin; loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting; dizziness; headache; itching; skin freckling.

Side effects needing medical attention after stopping this medication: Fever and chills; sore throat; unusual bleeding or bruising; black, tarry stools; blood in urine or stool; cough; lower back or side pain; painful or difficult urination; pinhead-sized red spots on skin.


For information on how to manage the costs of drug therapy, please see Financial Matters and Prescription Drug Coverage, or to speak with an Information Specialist, call (800) 955-4572.

last updated on Thursday, October 18, 2012