Nephrotic Syndrome: Adverse effects of Cyclophosphamide

Cyclophosphamide is a powerful drug which can stop the process of cell division irrespective of which phase of cell division is in progress. Adverse reactions of Cyclophosphamide can be serious or ‘not-so serious’. There are a few life-threatening adverse effects as well. It may be noted that all the patients receiving Cyclophosphamide may not produce all the adverse effects of it. The most commonly encountered adverse reactions fall in the ‘not-so-serious’ group. Some of them are:

Digestive system

  • Poor appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Inflammation of the oral cavity (stomatitis).
  • Pain in abdomen accompanied by diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Ulcers in the oral cavity as well as in the large intestine.
  • Bloody diarrhea with jaundice.
  • Elevated levels of liver enzymes.

Urinary system

  • Inflammation of the urinary bladder.
  • Fibrosis of the urinary bladder.
  • Inflammation of the urethra causing blood in urine.

Vision

  • Blurred vision with headache and dizziness

Skin

  • Wide spread skin rashes.
  • Nails and skin show pigmentation.
  • Sudden formation of blisters (Steven-Johnson Syndrome)
  • Necrosis (death of the skin tissue).
  • Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin).
  • Moderate to severe forms of hair loss.

Blood and circulatory system

  • Reduced production of neutrophils (a form of white blood cells which fight against infections). This can result in frequent fevers and infections.
  • Reduced production of thrombocytes (cells responsible for blood clotting).
  • Occasionally anemia (reduced hemoglobin in the red blood cells) is seen in people receiving cyclophosphamide.
  • Decrease in the actual number of  white blood cells (leucopenia)

Respiratory system

  • Inflammation of the lung tissues that ultimately result in fibrosis.

Some of the more serious adverse effects of this drug are as follows:

  • This drug has proven harmful to the fetus when given to pregnant women.
  • There are incidences where it has resulted in infertility in both men and women.
  • Even in non-regnant women, the drug can cause menstrual irregularities or even suppress the menses for months together (amenorrhea). It can also lead to the fibrosis of the ovaries.
  • Cancers of the kidney (in particular, the renal pelvis) have been reported.
  • Inflammation of the urinary bladder and urethra causing bloody urine which can lead to serious blood loss.
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels supplying the brain has been reported.
  • Cyclophosphamide can lead to inflammation of the heart muscles which can eventually lead to congestive heart failure.

Adverse effects of CyclophosphamideAdverse effects of CyclosporineAdverse effects of Methotrexate

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