Find out what cyclophosphamide is, how you have it and other important information about having cyclophosphamide.
Cyclophosphamide (pronounced sigh-clo-fos-fah-mide) is a chemotherapy drug. It is a treatment for several different types of cancer.
You can have cyclophosphamide on its own, or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.
How it works
Cyclophosphamide belongs to a group of drugs called alkylating agents. It works by sticking to one of the cancer cell’s DNA strands. DNA is the genetic code that is in the heart of all animal and plant cells. It controls everything the cell does. The cell cannot then divide into 2 new cells.
How you have it
You have cyclophosphamide into your bloodstream (intravenously) or as tablets that you swallow whole, with a glass of water. Don't chew or break the tablets and, if possible, take the tablets in the morning.
Drugs into your bloodstream
You have the treatment through a drip into your arm or hand. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.
You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.
Taking your tablets
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Talk to your specialist or advice line before you stop taking a cancer drug.
When you have it
You have cyclophosphamide as cycles of treatment. Your plan depends on the type of cancer you have. And whether you’re having cyclophosphamide on its own or with other chemotherapy drugs.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you how often and when you’ll have it.
You have blood tests before and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.
Other medicines, foods and drink
Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.
You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when you are taking this drug because it can react with the drug.
Check with your doctor to see if drinking alcohol may harm you while having this treatment.
Pregnancy and contraception
This treatment may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.
Women must not become pregnant for at least a year after the end of treatment. Men should not father a child for at least 6 months after treatment.
Loss of fertility
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and the shingles vaccine (Zostavax).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
- be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections
Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.
This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.
You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened.
More information about this treatment
For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.
You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.