Procarbazine will be started in a hospital clinic and your progress will be monitored by a specialist doctor.
The most common side-effects of procarbazine are loss of appetite and feeling sick.
If you develop any unexpected bleeding, bruising or skin rashes, contact a doctor for advice straightaway.
|Type of medicine||A chemotherapy medicine|
|Used for||Hodgkin's disease (in adults and children)|
Procarbazine is a medicine which is given to treat some cancers. It is given in particular to treat Hodgkin's disease. It can be prescribed alone, or it can be given in combination with other medicines. Hodgkin's disease, which is also called Hodgkin's lymphoma, is a cancer of the lymph glands. Lymph glands are part of the body's immune system.
In cancer, certain cells in the body grow and multiply too fast. Anti-cancer medicines like procarbazine work by slowing the growth of cancer cells.
Before taking procarbazine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking procarbazine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have an infection or feel particularly unwell.
- If you have a heart condition or blood vessel disease.
- If you have epilepsy.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you have a tumour on your adrenal glands which is causing high blood pressure (called phaeochromocytoma).
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take procarbazine
- Before you start the treatment, read any printed information you have been given by your doctor and the printed manufacturer's leaflet from inside the pack of capsules. These will give you more information about procarbazine and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Procarbazine will be prescribed for you by a specialist doctor who is experienced in treating your condition. The doctor will calculate what dose is right for you and will tell you how many capsules to take each day - it is important that you take procarbazine exactly as you are told to. Treatment for Hodgkin's disease is usually prescribed in cycles, with each cycle lasting about 4-6 weeks. You will be prescribed procarbazine for several days of each cycle, and your dose may increase during a cycle. The directions will be printed on the label of the pack of capsules, but if you are at all unsure about what to do, you should contact your doctor or hospital clinic for advice.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless your next dose is due within a couple of hours (in this case, take the next dose when it is due but leave out the forgotten dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- You must try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular check-ups during treatment.
- Do not drink alcohol while you are on procarbazine. This is because the combination of procarbazine together with alcohol can cause an unpleasant reaction and make you feel very unwell. It can cause you to have a throbbing headache, a flushed face, and the sensation of a 'thumping' heart (palpitations), and make you feel very sick. Many liquid medicines and mouthwashes contain alcohol, so always read the contents on the label and avoid any product which contains alcohol.
- Certain foods and drinks can cause an unpleasant reaction with procarbazine. Try to avoid mature cheese, yeast or meat extracts (such as Marmite®, Oxo® and Bovril®), broad bean pods, pickled herring, salami sausage, pepperoni sausage, Bologna sausage, overripe fruit, non-alcoholic beers, lagers and wines and foods which have been fermented, pickled, smoked, 'hung' or matured. If you want to eat or drink anything on the list you could try a little at a time, until you are sure that it doesn't upset you.
- Procarbazine lowers the number of white cells in your blood and this increases the chance that you may get an infection. You should take precautions to reduce the risk of infection whenever you can. So, if possible, avoid other people with infections and let your doctor know straightaway if you think you are getting a sore throat or if you have a high temperature.
- While you are taking procarbazine, do not have any immunisations (vaccinations) without talking with your doctor first. Because procarbazine lowers your body's resistance, there is a chance that you may get an infection from some vaccines.
- If you buy or take any other medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take alongside procarbazine.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- It is important that you do not get pregnant or father a child while you are taking procarbazine. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.
- If you intend to have children in the future, you should ask your doctor for advice about family planning before you begin taking procarbazine. This is particularly important if you are a man, as there is a risk of reduced fertility after procarbazine treatment.
Can procarbazine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause side-effects although not everyone experiences them. Before you start treatment with procarbazine your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of unwanted side-effects occurring. The table below contains some of the most common ones. You will find a full list of side-effects in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your capsules.
|Common procarbazine side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Loss of appetite, feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)||Stick to simple foods and let your doctor know. An anti-sickness medicine may help|
Important: if you notice any unexpected bleeding or bruising, or if you develop a rash or jaundice, contact a doctor for advice straightaway.
How to store procarbazine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Procarbazine Capsules 50 mg; Alliance Pharmaceuticals, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2013.
British National Formulary, 79th Edition (Mar 2020); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.