You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking cyclophosphamide if you have:
- A history of low levels of white blood cells in the blood (known medically as neutropenia) or low platelets (thrombocytopenia)
- Undergone previous radiation treatment
- Undergone previous chemotherapy treatment
- A tumor that has spread to bone marrow
- Any infection
- Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
- Liver disease, including liver failure or cirrhosis
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Cytoxan and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Cytoxan and Breastfeeding).
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Cyclophosphamide to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
Cyclophosphamide is part of a group of medications called alkylating agents. Cyclophosphamide itself is not active against cancer, but it is metabolized by the liver into its active form. The active form causes "cross-linking" of DNA cells. When DNA is cross-linked, it can no longer function properly. Since DNA is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating medications prevent cell growth and multiplication and may cause cell death.
While cyclophosphamide can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by cyclophosphamide.
Cyclophosphamide also suppresses the immune system, which is probably how it works to treat nephrotic syndrome.