Arsenic Trioxide (Trisenox®)

About This Drug

Arsenic trioxide is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects

  • A rapid increase in your white blood cells may happen
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Tiredness
  • Swelling
  • Blood sugar levels may changes. If you have diabetes, changes may need to be made to your diabetes medication.
  • Cough
  • Rash and itching
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy

Note: Not all possible side effects are included above.

Warnings and Precautions

  • A serious syndrome may happen with the use of this drug which is known as Differentiation Syndrome. You may get a fever, weight gain, and breathing problems. You will be checked closely for signs of this syndrome.
  • Abnormal heart beat, your heart function and EKG’s will checked as needed.
  • This drug may raise your risk of getting a second cancer

Important Information

  • This drug may be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, urine, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions. Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
  • If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • If you get diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods that are high in protein and calories and avoid foods that can irritate your digestive tracts or lead to cramping.
  • Ask your nurse or doctor about medicine that can lessen or stop your diarrhea.
  • To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
  • Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day. Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
  • If you’re diabetic, keep good control of your blood sugar level. Tell your nurse or your doctor if your glucose levels are higher or lower than normal.
  • Keeping your pain under control is important to your well-being. Please tell your doctor or nurse if you are experiencing pain.
  • If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying.
  • To help with itching, moisturize your skin several times day.
  • Avoid sun exposure and apply sunscreen routinely when outdoors.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • There no known interactions of arsenic trioxide with food.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and dietary supplements you are taking before starting this medicine as there are a lot of known drug interactions with arsenic trioxide. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplement to make sure that there are no interactions.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • You cough up yellow, green, or bloody mucus.
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times a day or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Abnormal blood sugar
  • Unusual thirst, passing urine often, headache, sweating, shakiness, irritability
  • Pain that does not go away, or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • New rash and/or itching
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Signs of differentiation syndrome such as fever, weight gain, trouble breathing.
  • If you think you may be pregnant, or have impregnated your partner

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug can have harmful effects on the unborn baby. Women of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for 3 months after treatment. Men with female partners of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during and for 3 months after your cancer treatment. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner
  • Breastfeeding warning: Women should not breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: Human fertility studies have not been done with this drug. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.

Revised July 2017