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Decitabine is used in the treatment of ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer., breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), blood cancer, lung cancer, bone cancer and urinary bladder cancer

How it works

Decitabine interferes with the growth of DNA and RNA of the cancer cells by substituting their building blocks. It prevents the cancer cells from growing and multiplying.

Common side effects

Nausea, Vomiting, Headache, Fever, Lung infection, Decreased white blood cell count (neutrophils), Nose bleed, Anemia, Reduced blood platelets, Diarrhoea, Pneumonia

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Expert advice

  • You should undergo frequent examinations of complete blood count before every dosing cycle to check development of neutropenia (abnormally low white blood cell count) or thrombocytopenia (abnormally low count of platelets in the blood).
  • You should regularly be monitor and treated accordingly for signs and symptoms of infections or any unusual bleeding as decitabine is known to suppress the activity of the immune system and affects blood clotting functions.
  • Take extreme care to avoid pregnancy while on decitabine therapy. Consult your doctor if you get to know that you are pregnant.

Frequently asked questions



Is decitabine a vesicant?
Decitabine is not a vesicant and is not known to cause severe local tissue damage upon extravasation (leaking of injected decitabine into the surrounding tissues from the site of administration) when injected


How effective is decitabine?
The effectiveness of decitabine depends upon several factors including the patient's clinical condition, number of treatment cycles etc. and may vary depending upon the individual response


Does decitabine cause hair loss?
Yes. Hair loss (alopecia) is among the known side effects of decitabine

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How is decitabine administered?
Decitabine comes as a powder to be to be added to fluid and injected slowly over 3 hours into a vein (slow i.v infusion) by a doctor who is experienced in giving chemotherapy medications for cancer in a hospital or a clinic.

Content on this page was last updated on 07 March, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)