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Cosmegen (Dactinomycin)

by Mathew Marshall
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Cosmegen (Dactinomycin)

Brand name: Cosmegen  

Generic name: Dactinomycin 

Warning: The recipient should pay careful attention when the physician injects Cosmegen.  If the medication leaks into the surrounding tissue, the skin or muscle may be damaged. Immediately inform the doctor if you feel pain or irritation. Also be careful when handling this medication.  Wear protective clothing to keep it away from skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.

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Do not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the powder if you are pregnant.

Indications: Cosmegen is the brand name for the generic drug Dactinomycin, which works to treat cancer by inhibiting or preventing the growth of cancer cells.  In some cases, it isused alone, in others, part of a regimen of other anti- cancer drugs. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells. osmegen is used, alone or in association with other anticancer drugs, to treat the following cancers:

  • Ewing’s sarcoma
  • testicular cancer
  • melanoma
  • uterine cancer
  • Wilms’ tumor
  • rhabdomyosarcoma
  • gestational trophoblastic disease
  • neuroblastoma
  • retinoblastoma
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma.

Dosage: Cosmegen is injected into a vein over a period of a few minutes by a certified health care professional.  The course of the treatment is once shot daily for 1 to 5 days, as specified by the physician.  It must not be injected into a muscle or under the skin.  The dosage varies – the physician will determine the correct dosage based on your body size, medical condition, and response to treatment.  In between doses, the physician monitors progress through lab tests. During this time, it is important for the patient to follow through on every appointment in order to preserve the efficacy of the treatment.

Overdose: Cosmegen is administered in hospital by professionals; the risk of overdose is very low. However, accidental overdose or administrative mistake can happen. Cosmegen overdose can cause exaggerated immunosuppression (life threatening low immune defense), and lead to severe or fatal infections. There is no specific treatment for Cosmegen overdose. The treatment is symptomatic and close monitoring to avoid major complications.

Missing dose: the fact that Cosmegen is administered in hospital by professional, it is very difficult to miss any dose if you are present at your doctor’s appointment. If for some reasons you cannot go to the hospital for the treatment, contact your health care provider before the date schedule for the injection.

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Contraindication: There are several considerations to take into account before using this drug. First, be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to the medication.  You must avoid this medication if you are currently suffering from chickenpox or shingles.  Have your doctor review your medical history for these viral illnesses along with liver problems, kidney problems, or blood disorders such as enema and clotting problems.  During treatment, avoid people who have recently been immunized orally for polio vaccine, or through the nose for flu vaccine.  Avoid cuts or bruises – put away razors and nail cutters during the treatment.  And ensure that you are not pregnant while receiving treatment with this medication.

Interactions: Cosmegen can interact with other medications to produce serious side effects, as well as reducing the efficacy of the drug itself.  Make a list of all the prescription and non-prescription drugs you are using, and check this list with your doctor and pharmacist.  Be sure not to start, stop, or change the dosages of this medication or any of the others you are taking with consulting with your physician.  This drug can also affect the results of particular lab tests – be sure to alert them to the fact you are taking this drug.

Specific interactions for this medication include blood thinners such as warfarin and enoxaparin, live vaccines, salicylates such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and sodium salicylate).  These can increase your risk of bleeding.  Low-dose aspirin (80mg) should be continued only if prescribed for stroke prevention by your doctor.

Side effects: by attacking the cancer cells, Cosmegen also attacks normal cells, which can cause various side effects in most patients. Common side effects from Cosmegen include:

  • mouth blistering
  • temporary hair loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain and diarrhea
  • difficulty swallowing
  • blistering skin
  • skin irritation
  • Skin rash.

Cosmegen can cause serious side effects which require immediate medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • chills
  • Seizures
  • fever, which can be accompanied with a persistent cough
  • shortness of breath
  • breathing difficulty
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • dizziness or/and faintness
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • swelling of your feet or ankles
  • Swelling and pain at the injection site.
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