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Asparaginase is used to treat certain cancers of white blood cells, including acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

How it works

Asparaginase belongs to class of medications called antineoplastic agents. Asparaginase is an enzyme that interferes with natural processes necessary for cancer cell growth, thereby killing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.

Common side effects

Abnormal liver function tests, Hormone imbalance, Allergic reaction, Slow growth in children and teenagers, Bleeding, Chills, Diarrhoea, Fever, Nausea, Stomach cramp, Vomiting, Weight loss, Loss of appetite


Expert advice

  • Asparaginase can also make you flush, breathe faster, or have a fruit-like breath. This is normal and not a cause for concern.
  • Do not receive a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps) while you are taking asparaginase.
  • Do not take this drug if you are allergic to asparaginase or any of its ingredients.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you feel confused, drowsy, have excessive thirst or observe an increased frequency or volume of urination. 
  • If you are a patient with diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
  • Ensure that you undergo periodic laboratory tests to monitor response to the therapy and any side effects.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)