Asparaginase is a medicine which is given at the same time as chemotherapy drugs.
It is an enzyme which deprives leukaemia cells of essential nutrients so that they die.
How is asparaginase given?
It is usually given in one of two ways:
What are the side effects of asparaginase?
Asparaginase may cause an itchy rash.
This may occur after asparaginase is given but it does not usually last for long.
Temporary effect on liver function
Asparaginase can cause some mild changes to your child’s liver function. This will return to normal when the treatment is finished. Blood tests may be taken to monitor your child’s liver function.
Changes in blood clotting
With asparaginase your child’s blood may take more or less time to clot than normal. Therefore, there may be a slight chance of your child bruising or bleeding more easily than normal. This is not common. Please report any bruising or bleeding to your child’s doctor.
Some people receiving asparaginase have an allergic reaction to the drug. This reaction may be mild to severe. Signs of a mild allergic reaction include skin rashes and itching, high temperature, shivering, redness of the face, a feeling of dizziness or headache. If you see any of these signs, please report them to a doctor or nurse. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include any of the above, as well as shortness of breath. If you are in hospital and your child shows signs of an allergic reaction, call a doctor or nurse immediately. If you are at home and your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, call an ambulance immediately.
Important information about asparaginase
Your child must remain in the hospital or outpatient department for at least one hour after an injection of asparaginase to check for any allergic reaction.
Asparaginase and interactions with other medicines
Some medicines can react with asparaginase, altering how well it works. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicine, including medicines on prescription from your family doctor (GP), medicines bought from a pharmacy (chemist) or any herbal or complementary medicines.
Last reviewed by Great Ormond Street Hospital: November 2009
Ref: 09F0493 © GOSH Trust November 2009
Compiled by the Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Please read this information in conjunction with any patient information leaflet provided by the manufacturer. However, please note that this information explains about the use of medicines in children and young people so may differ from the manufacturer’s information.
Each person reacts differently to medicines so your child will not necessarily suffer every side effect mentioned. This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.