Pegasparase (Generic Name)
Other Names: Oncaspar

About this drug

Pegaspargase is used to treat cancer. It is given by injection in the muscle or intravenously (IV).

Possible side effects

  • Nausea and vomiting (usually mild)
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Severe confusion or hallucinations
  • Red rash that may be itchy
  • Pain at the site of injection
  • Allergic reactions. When the drug is being given, allergic reactions may occur in some patients. Signs of allergic reaction are shortness of breath, rash or itching, dizziness or lightheadedness, palpitations (feeling your heart beat rapidly), or swelling of your lips or tongue.
  • Blood clotting problems. You may notice that you bruise more easily or have bleeding. Your blood work will be checked as needed.
  • Bone marrow depression (uncommon). There may be a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may increase your risk of infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Increase in uric acid in your blood. Your blood and kidney function may be tested as needed.
  • Irritation of your pancreas (pancreatitis). You may have stomach pains, nausea and vomiting, or enzymes made by your pancreas may be elevated.
  • Changes in liver enzymes. Blood tests will be used to check on your liver enzymes as needed.
  • Increased blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). You may notice unusual thirst and frequent need to urinate.
  • This drug may have harmful effects on an unborn child. Effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment. Genetic counseling is available for you to discuss the effect of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. A genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus if an exposure to this medication during pregnancy has occurred.

Treating side effects

  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.
  • Do not put anything on your rash, unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
  • Be careful when you’re cooking, walking, or handling sharp objects or hot liquids.
  • Use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment.

Food and drug interactions

There are no known interactions of pegaspargase. This drug may interact with other medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of the medications that you are currently taking.

When to call the doctor

While receiving this drug, tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rash or itching
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Palpitations (feeling your heart beat rapidly)
  • Swelling of the lips or tongue

Notify your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than three times in one day
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Hallucinations; sudden confusion
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Severe stomach pains

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme drowsiness that interferes with normal activities
  • Swelling of your feet or lower legs
  • Nausea that is not helped by prescribed medication
  • Frequent urination and unusual thirst
  • Difficulty in walking or changes in the way you walk
  • Clumsiness in buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine activities
  • Low back or side pain
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Rash
  • Pain or numbness in your legs
  • Persistent loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (5 pounds in one week)
  • Extreme fatigue that interferes with normal activities

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA