What is cyclophosphamide?
Cyclophosphamide is a potent immunosuppressive drug that is used in the treatment of severe forms of vasculitis, as well as other autoimmune diseases of other sorts with severe manifestations. We use Cyclophosphamide is used in higher doses as a chemotherapeutic drug to treat some forms of cancer.
How does cyclophosphamide work?
Cyclophosphamide has a toxic effect on immune cells, and therefore suppresses the immune system to a significant degree.
How is cyclophosphamide given?
Cyclophosphamide can be used as a pill taken by mouth every day, or as an infusion given every few weeks. The specific dosing used depends on several factors, including a patient’s age and weight. When oral cyclophosphamide is used, it is important for patients to take cyclophosphamide early in the morning with a large glass of water, and to stay well hydrated during the day.
Cyclophosphamide is a strong immunosuppressant and puts patients at risk of infections. It is extremely important that patients report any signs of infection while using cyclophosphamide. We often need to prescribe an antibiotic (Bactrim) to prevent fungal pneumonia in patients taking cyclophosphamide. Patients need to have frequent lab testing to monitor blood counts, kidney function, and urine for the presence of blood while taking cyclophosphamide. Because cyclophosphamide can cause injury to the bladder, it is important for patients to drink plenty of fluids while using cyclophosphamide.
All immunosuppressants require regular monitoring in the form of blood tests, in-person assessments, and vigilance for signs of infection.