Generic Name: Prednisolone (pred-ni-ZOE-lone)
Trade Name: Delta-Cortef®, Orapred®, Pediapred®, Prelone®
How is this drug used? Prednisolone is FDA approved for the palliation of lymphomas and leukemias, as well as for the relief or treatment of several symptoms that may be caused by cancer. It is important for patients to remember that physicians have the ability to prescribe medication for conditions other than those for which the drug has been approved by the FDA. Patients who have received a prescription of this drug for a condition other than which it is approved may wish to discuss this issue with their physician.
What is the mechanism of action? Prednisolone is a steroid and belongs to a class of agents referred to as glucocorticoids. Prednisolone produces its anti-cancer effects through its anti-inflammatory processes. Prednisolone inhibits the inflammatory process that may be involved in some types of cancer or side effects caused by cancer.
How is prednisolone given (administered)? Prednisolone is administered orally in pill form or liquid form, and the dose depends on several factors, including the condition being treated, the size of the patient, the particular regimen being used and the overall health of the patient.
How are patients monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with prednisolone. Patients may undergo physical examinations, scans or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy. Patients’ blood sugar and electrolyte levels may also be monitored.
What are the common (occur in 30% or more of patients) side effects of treatment with prednisolone?
• Increased appetite
• Irritability – mood changes
• Swelling of ankles and feet
• Weight gain
• Stomach ulcers
• Muscle weakness
• Abnormalities in wound healing
• Increase in blood sugar levels
What are the less common (occur in 10% to 29% of patients) side effects of treatment with prednisolone?
• Mood swings
• Cataracts, glaucoma—with long-term use
• Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis)—with long term use
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
• Pay careful attention to the physician’s instructions and inform the physician of any side effects.
• Maintain adequate rest and nutrition.
• Wear sunscreen and protective clothing and try to minimize sun exposure.
• Drink plenty of fluids. (Patients should ask their physician about the amount of liquid to consume during a day.)
• Eat small meals frequently to help alleviate nausea.
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
• Patients should inform their physician if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a family in the near future. This drug may cause birth defects. It is important to use some kind of birth control while undergoing treatment. Also, patients may want to talk to their physician if they are considering having children in the future, since some drugs may cause fertility problems.
• It is important that patients inform their physician of any pre-existing conditions (chicken pox, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, etc.) as they may worsen with this drug.
• Patients should inform their physician of any other medication they are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter, including vitamins, herbs, etc.) as they may interfere with treatment.
• Patients should check with their physician before starting any new drug or nutritional supplement.
• Patients should inform their physician of any known drug or food allergies or any reactions to medications they have experienced in the past.
• Prednisolone may cause high blood sugar levels – patients with diabetes may be required to check their blood sugar levels frequently
• If an oral dose is missed, do not double up on doses. Patients should contact their doctor in this event.
• Keep tablets out of reach of children and return to the pharmacy for safe disposal if treatment is terminated.
When should patients notify their physician?
• Fever, chills,flu or cold-like symptoms
• Signs of infection: redness, swelling, pus, tenderness
• Chest pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath
• Noticeable changes in heart rate or rhythm
• Extreme or persistent fatigue
• Unexplained bleeding (bruising, black or tarry stools, blood in urine, nosebleeds)
• Extreme or persistent nausea and vomiting
• Severe heartburn, abdominal or stomach pain
• Dizziness or faintness
• Persistent or severe headache
• Hot flashes
• Menstrual irregularities
• Sudden mood swings, depression
• Bone pain
• Changes in vision, eye abnormalities
• Swelling, redness or pain in only one extremity
• Rashes or discoloration of skin, thin skin, bruising
• Wound that will not heal
• Signs of high blood sugar (frequent urination or severe thirst, confusion, drowsiness, decreased or blurred vision, dry mouth)
• Swelling of feet or ankles
• Sudden weight gain
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
Important Limitations of Use
The information provided above on the drug you have selected is provided for your information only and is not a substitute for consultation with an appropriate medical doctor. We are providing this information solely as a courtesy and, as such, it is in no way a recommendation as to the safety, efficacy or appropriateness of any particular drug, regimen, dosing schedule for any particular cancer, condition or patient nor is it in any way to be considered medical advice. Patients should discuss the appropriateness of a particular drug or chemotherapy regimen with their physician.
As with any printed reference, the use of particular drugs, regimens and drug dosages may become out-of-date over time, since new information may have been published and become generally accepted after the latest update to this printed information. Please keep in mind that health care professionals are fully responsible for practicing within current standards, avoiding use of outdated regimens, employing good clinical judgment in selecting drugs and/or regimens, in calculating doses for individual patients, and verifying all dosage calculations.
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