Does Cladribine Cause Hair Loss?

Cladribine is a drug used in the treatment of cancers. It is a generic name of the drug Leustatin sold in the market. It is mostly used in the treatment of hairy cell leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and many others. It is given intravenously as there is no pill form of the drug. Its amount is different for different persons depending on their body build up.

The side effects of the drug include fever, fatigue, reduced blood count, nausea, infection, skin rashes and many more.

Does Cladribine Cause Hair Loss?

Does Cladribine Cause Hair Loss?

Cladribine is an anticancer drug widely used intravenously for the treatment of Hairy cell leukemia, and others listed above. Its common side effects include fever, infections, and low blood cell count, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hair loss is also reported in a few people consuming cladribine drug.

Cladribine is an anticancer drug used in chemotherapy. Your doctor will inquire you about any allergic reaction you may have experienced with the drug before prescribing. A blood test is performed before the treatment for the decision for the dose and timing of the chemotherapy. Drug reactions are also inquired.

Cladribine Is Used In The Treatment Of Cancer Such As:

  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis
  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia

If it is used for one cancer, it can also be used for the other one if your doctor thinks it can work.

Mode of Administration

Cladribine is administered intravenously for one to two hours on consecutive days for several days. This is because there is no pill form available in the market. Its doses depend on the height, weight and general health of the patient.

Drug Reactions

  • Cladribine usually reacts with aspirin or aspirin-containing drugs. Your doctor will take decisions for this.
  • It is advisable to avoid any type of immunization or vaccination without your doctor’s permission.


  • It is not recommended for use in pregnancy as it may harm the fetus.
  • During the course of the drug, it is advisable to avoid pregnancy through the use of barrier contraceptive devices.
  • Breastfeeding is also not recommended.

Side Effects of Cladribine

It is not necessary that every individual experience side effects of Cladribine. Its side effects are predictable and clear off with the completion of the therapy. The side effects can be managed by your doctor. The severity of the side effects depends on the dose of the drug. Its efficacy does not have a relationship with side effects.

The Side Effects Of Cladribine Are As Follows

  • Pain and tenderness at the site of injection
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Low blood cell count
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Skin rashes and skin reactions
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea (black tarry stool)
  • Cough
  • Abnormal breath sounds

The onset of side effects is not noted, but it recovers in 4 to 8 weeks. The low blood count happens for 5 to 10 days in chemotherapy.

Severe side effects are seen if you have received extremely high doses –

  • Nerve toxicity
  • Kidney injury

Your doctor will consider you as immune suppressed because you can catch infections easily up to one year after the course of cladribine.

A recent study reveals that Hair loss and alopecia can also happen as side effects of cladribine drug. It is reported only in a few people who are receiving the treatment for cancer with cladribine.

If you experience side effects in 24 hours of intake of cladribine, you should report it to your doctor. He can effectively manage them before the side effects get worse.

These side effects are-

  • Uncontrollable nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Easy bleeding.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 28, 2018

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