What is it?

Cyclophosphamide 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?

Cyclophosphamide is used in many different conditions. It is used mainly to treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Hodgkins lymphoma, and myeloma


How does it work?

Cyclophosphamide works by disrupting DNA within cancerous cells which leads to cell death.


How is it given?

When treating Haematological disease it is mainly given by mouth as a tablet. However, occasionally it is given by an injection into a vein. It is mainly used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.


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.

Like most chemotherapy drugs Cyclophosphamide can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea. Other medications are often used when chemotherapy is given to minimise these side effects. Let your Doctor know if you are troubled by these side effects.

Cyclophosphamide can cause irritation to the bladder so it is important to drink plenty of water when receiving this drug and inform your Doctor or Nurse if it is painful when you pass water.


Further information

Cyclophosphamide at Macmillian cancer support



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Written by: Dr T Rider

Editor: Dr J Newman

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