What is Fludarabine?

Fludarabine (Fludara) is an antimetabolite chemotherapy medication. It is used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). There are many non-FDA approved off-label indications as well including: refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), relapsed acute lymphoytic leukemia (ALL) and Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM). This medication inhibits several key enzymes in the synthesis of DNA (DNA polymerase, ribonucleotide reductase, DNA primase and DNA ligase I). Without the synthesis of DNA, cells cannot divide and tumor growth is arrested.

How it is administered:

Fludarabine is most commonly administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes. It does not cause nausea to a large degree, however pre-medications are typically given prior to infusion to prevent the occurrence of nausea.

What to expect:

Fludarabine can cause anemia and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections. Other common side effects with this medication include: fever, fatigue, pain, chills, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, weakness, cough, upper respiratory infections, headache and angina. Laboratory tests will be performed routinely throughout the course of therapy to help manage and monitor the development of these side effects.