What is it?

Chlorambucil is a chemotherapy drug, see chemotherapy sheet for background information. Chemotherapy kills cancerous cells which divide and grow rapidly. However healthy cells which grow quickly are also affected by the chemotherapy which is why patients can get side effects.


What is it used for?

It is mainly used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Chlorambucil is also used to treat some forms of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Hodgkins lymphoma.


How does it work?

Chlorambucil interferes with DNA replication. This is essential for a cell to divide and replicated which is how Chlorambucil kills cancer cells.


How is it given?

Chlorambucil is given by mouth in a tablet.


What are the most important side effects?

The most important side effect to be aware of is neutropenic sepsis. This will be explained to you before you start treatment. Chemotherapy affects the bone marrow so that blood cells are not produced in the normal way. This is only temporary, but leaves the body vulnerable to infection as the immune system will not be able to fight against infection in the normal way. Therefore please read the neutropenic sepsis page for full information about what to do if you feel unwell.

Chlorambucil can also cause a rash. See a Doctor straight away if this occurs. Otherwise, patients tend not to suffer with many other side effects if taking Chlorambucil by itself.


Further information

Chlorambucil at Macmillian cancer support



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Written by: Dr T Rider

Editor: Dr J Newman

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