Tretinoin Vesanoid, ATRA

Tretinoin Vesanoid, ATRA

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Tretinoin (Vesanoid, ATRA) which is not a chemotherapy drug but is often used with chemo in promyelocytic leukaemia (a type of AML). It is a retinoid, made from vitamin A which has many non-cancer uses.

Retinoids control normal cell growth, cell differentiation (the normal process of making cells different from each other), and cell death. This occurs during embryonic development, and in certain tissues, later in life. In APML, the cells are "stuck" in an immature form, making thousands of copies of this immature cell that cannot function. Tretinoin causes the cells to get "unstuck" and mature. It can induce remission in 64-100% of patients, but further therapy is usually needed to stay in remission. It is taken in capsule form.

Side effects can include: fatigue, headache, dry or itchy skin, skin rashes, swelling, weight gain, fever, mouth ulcers and sore eyes, earache.  More rarely it can change blood cholesterol levels, diarrhoea, constipation, peripheral neuropathy and mood changes and more serious side effects such as liver changes and problems with the nervous system.

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list


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