Peginterferon alfa-2b (Generic Name)

Other Names: Sylatron®

About This Drug

Peginterferon alfa-2b is used to treat cancer. This drug is given under the skin by subcutaneous injection (SQ).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, chills, and profuse sweating. These effects usually occur one to two hours after the drug is given and may last up to 18 hours. These symptoms usually decrease with each dose.
  • Extreme tiredness, fatigue, bone marrow depression. Bone marrow depression is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It increases your risk of infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Changes in liver enzymes. Liver enzymes will be checked as needed.
  • Irritation at the injection site
  • Mild nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Some people have diarrhea and others have constipation.
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hair loss. You may notice hair thinning. Some patients lose their hair. Your hair usually grows back when treatment is completed.
  • Depression or other mood changes

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Raised, red rash on your arms, legs, back, or chest.
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 or more minutes, call 911.
  • Changes in vision, such as blurred or double vision
  • Decreased mental alertness or decreased ability to concentrate

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions may occur. Tell your nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms during the time you are receiving this drug:

  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Feeling like your tongue or throat is swelling
  • Feeling your heart beat rapidly (palpitations)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Flushing/itching/rash/hives

Reproductive Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment. Speak to your doctor or nurse about effective methods of birth control.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast feeding warning: Women are advised not to breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast-feeding infant.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of peginterferon with food. This drug may interact with other medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medications and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

When to Call the Doctor

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

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than 2 times in one day
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 or more minutes, call 911.
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in vision, such as blurred or double vision

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

  • Painful mouth or throat that makes it difficult to eat or drink
  • Diarrhea 4 times in a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Pain in arms or legs unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Headache unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Persistent loss of appetite or weight loss of 5 pounds or more in a week
  • Extreme tiredness that interferes with normal activities
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Rash or dry and itchy skin that is bothersome
  • Depression, anxiety (nervousness)or mood changes
  • Decreased mental alertness or ability to concentrate
  • Trouble sleeping

Revised January 2013

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