Cytarabine, also known as cytosine arabinoside, is a medication used in the treatment of various types of cancer, particularly leukemia. It belongs to a class of drugs known as antimetabolites.

Cytarabine works by interfering with the DNA replication process in cancer cells. It is converted into its active form within the cells, where it incorporates into the DNA structure and inhibits further DNA synthesis. This disruption ultimately leads to the death of the cancer cells.


The medication is typically administered intravenously or by injection into the cerebrospinal fluid (intrathecal administration). It may be used alone or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, depending on the specific type and stage of cancer being treated.

Common side effects of cytarabine may include nausea, vomiting, low blood cell counts, mouth sores, and hair loss. More serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or neurological problems, can occur but are less common. Regular monitoring of blood cell counts and other parameters may be recommended during treatment.


Cytarabine should only be used under the guidance and prescription of a qualified healthcare professional experienced in the treatment of cancer. It may interact with other medications, so it is important to inform the healthcare provider about all medications being taken, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

In summary, cytarabine is a medication used in the treatment of various types of cancer, particularly leukemia. It interferes with DNA replication in cancer cells to inhibit their growth and division. Regular monitoring and adherence to healthcare provider instructions are important during cytarabine treatment.

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