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Multiple Sclerosis and Cytoxan Therapy

Cytoxan is a therapy that may be given to people with multiple sclerosis. It works by suppressing the immune system. It's given to people with MS because the disease is thought to be the result of an abnormally active and misdirected, immune system. Cytoxan can keep your white blood cells from attacking your central nervous system, thereby slowing MS disease activity.

The medication is administered directly into a vein by way of an intravenous (IV) drip. Unfortunately, Cytoxan can produce serious side effects. Your neurologist will discuss the potential benefits and risks with you and your family. If you have any concerns or questions, discuss them with your health care team.

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What Are the Side Effects of Cytoxan?

Cytoxan side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hair thinning/loss
  • Low white blood cell count

To control nausea associated with Cytoxan therapy, your doctor will probably give you either Zofran or Reglan. Side effects may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Tired feeling
  • Restlessness

How Should I Prepare for Cytoxan Treatment?

You will need to go to your treatment center a few days before your Cytoxan treatment begins for pre-treatment testing, including: 

  • Blood tests, a urine test (urinalysis), and an electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Having your weight and height measured.
  • Learning about pre-treatment medication to control nausea. 

Be sure to wear comfortable, warm clothes when you come for treatments and bring something to pass time, such as a book.

Note: You are responsible for getting your blood work according to your doctor's specifications.

What Happens During Cytoxan Treatment?

Expect to be at the treatment center for about three to four hours each day that you get Cytoxan. The nurse will check your blood pressure and pulse before and after treatment.

During treatment, you will usually be given a combination of Cytoxan and other medications, which may include Solu-Medrol (an anti-inflammatory that eases inflammation), Zofran (anti-nausea drug), and/or Reglan (anti-nausea drug), and intravenous fluid through an IV drip.

What Can I Expect During Recovery After Cytoxan Therapy?

Because Cytoxan suppresses your immune system, the body's system for fighting illness, you will be prone to infection after treatment. Because of this, you'll need to avoid contact with people who are sick, especially the first 12-14 days after the treatment.

Notify your doctor or nurse if you experience extreme weakness, severe nausea, or vomiting.

Does Insurance Cover Cytoxan Therapy?

Insurance coverage varies greatly, depending on individual insurance plans. Cytoxan is usually covered; however, it is best to check with your insurance company before treatment begins.

If you have any other questions, please address them with your health care team.

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on April 13, 2014
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