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Fludarabine is used along with other drugs to treat B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of white blood cells) in patients not responding to other medicines or whose disease has worsened during treatment with other medicines.

How it works

Fludarabine is an anticancer drug that belongs to class of medications called antimetabolites (purine analogue). It works by stopping the multiplication and growth of new cancer cells resulting in death of cancer cells.

Common side effects

Nausea, Numbness, Pain, Tingling sensation of extremity, Numbness of extremity, Increase sensitivity (hyperesthesia), Altered sleep, Burning sensation, Constipation, Depression, Diarrhoea, Hair loss, Headache, Loss of appetite, Mouth ulcer, Muscle pain, Joint pain, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Do not start fludarabine if you have intolerance to some sugars, depressed immune system, present history of serious infection, feeling very unwell, or have bleeding or bruising.
  • Fludarabine is not recommended for children and should be used with caution in elderly patients over 65 years of age.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you develop rash or any blisters, red to brownish urine after taking fludarabine, disturbed vision, pain in side, blood in urine or decreased urine, need to have stem cells collected, need blood transfusion, have had skin cancer, need vaccination, have nausea or vomiting.
  • Use effective methods of contraception during fludarabine treatment to avoid pregnancy. 
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking fludarabine as it can make you tired, weak, confused, agitated, cause disturbed vision, or fits.

Frequently asked questions


 Q. Is fludarabine a vesicant or an alkylating agent?
Fludarabine is not vesicant (irritant) or alkylating agent, it is an antimetabolite (purine analogue).
Q. How is fludarabine administered?
Fludarabine is administered orally.
Q. What is fludarabine refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia?
Fludarabine refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia is chronic lymphocytic leukemia that does not respond to fludarabine or recurs within 6 months of treatment.
Q. Does fludarabine cause hair loss?
Yes, fludarabine can cause hair loss.

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