Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Trade names: Ifex®
Chemocare.com uses generic names in all descriptions of drugs. Ifex is the trade
name for Ifosfamide. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade
name ifex when referring to the generic drug name ifosfamide.
Drug type: Ifosfamide is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic"
or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy drug. This medication is classified as an "alkylating
agent." (For more detail, see "How this drug works" section below).
What Ifosfamide Is Used For:
- Recurrent testicular cancer and germ cell tumors
- Sarcomas (soft-tissue, osteogenic sarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma)
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Hodgkin's disease
- Non-small cell and small cell lung cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Cervix cancer
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians
may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Ifosfamide Is Given:
- Ifosfamide is give through an infusion into a vein (intravenous, IV).
- The amount of ifosfamide that you will receive depends on many factors, including
your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type
of cancer or condition being treated. Your doctor will determine your dose
Important things to remember about the side effects of ifosfamide:
- Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
- Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
- Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.
- There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the
effectiveness of the medication.
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for
patients taking ifosfamide:
- Low white blood cell count. (This can put you at increased risk for infection. See
low blood counts).
Nadir: Meaning low point, nadir is the point in time between chemotherapy
cycles in which you experience low blood counts.
Onset: 7-14 days
Nadir: 10-14 days
Recovery: 21-28 days
- Low platelet count. (This can put you at increased risk for bleeding. See
low blood counts).
- Hair loss.
- Nausea and vomiting. Usually occurs 3-6 hours after therapy and may last up
to 3 days.
- Poor appetite.
- Blood in the urine (hemorrhagic cystitis) (see bladder problems). The
medication mesna (see mesna) may be given with or following treatment with ifosfamide
to prevent or decrease the severity of this side effect.
These side effects are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%)
of patients receiving ifosfamide:
- Central neurotoxicity (including sleepiness, confusion and occasionally hallucinations).
- There is a slight risk of developing a blood cancer such as leukemia after taking
ifosfamide. Talk to your doctor about this risk.
Your fertility, meaning your ability to conceive or father a child, may be affected
by ifosfamide. Please discuss this issue with your health care provider.
Not all side effects are listed above. Some that are rare (occurring in less than
10% of patients) are not listed here. However, you should always inform your
health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you
should experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)
- Development of confusion, hallucinations or seizure
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency.
Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the
- Blood in the urine
- Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools
- Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs of dehydration: tiredness, thirst,
dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or dizziness.
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
- Before starting ifosfamide treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other
medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins,
herbal remedies, etc.). Do not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin
unless your doctor specifically permits this.
- Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval
while taking ifosfamide.
- Hydration is very important to prevent hemorrhagic cystitis (a problem of irritation
of the bladder). Your doctor may prescribe a medication called mesna to protect
the bladder while you are receiving ifosfamide.
- Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (ifosfamide may be hazardous to
the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the
potential hazard to the fetus).
- For both men and women: Do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking ifosfamide.
Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended. Discuss with
your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child after therapy.
- Do not breast feed while taking this medication.
- It is very important to drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours,
unless you are instructed otherwise.
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds and
those not feeling well, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately
to your health care provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
- Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and
eat small, frequent meals.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided
completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- You may experience drowsiness or dizziness; avoid driving or engaging in tasks that
require alertness until your response to the drug is known.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health
care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that
are effective in managing such problems.
Monitoring and Testing:
You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking
ifosfamide, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic
blood work to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of
other organs (such as your kidneys and liver) will also be ordered by your doctor.
How Ifosfamide Works:
Cancerous tumors are characterized by cell division, which is no longer controlled
as it is in normal tissue. "Normal" cells stop dividing when they come into
contact with like cells, a mechanism known as contact inhibition. Cancerous
cells lose this ability. Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and
balances in place that control and limit cell division. The process of cell
division, whether normal or cancerous cells, is through the cell cycle. The
cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing phases, and then
to mitosis (division).
The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt
cell division. Usually, the drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells
the cell how to copy itself in division. If the cells are unable to divide,
they die. The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy
will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink. They also induce cell suicide
(self-death or apoptosis).
Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells only when they are dividing are called cell-cycle
specific. Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells when they are at rest are called
cell-cycle non-specific. The scheduling of chemotherapy is set based on the
type of cells, rate at which they divide, and the time at which a given drug is
likely to be effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.
Chemotherapy is most effective at killing cells that are rapidly dividing.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between the cancerous cells
and the normal cells. The "normal" cells will grow back and be healthy but in the
meantime, side effects occur. The "normal" cells most commonly affected by
chemotherapy are the blood cells, the cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and
the hair follicles; resulting in low blood counts, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea,
and/or hair loss. Different drugs may affect different parts of the body.
Chemotherapy (anti-neoplastic drugs) is divided into five classes based on how they
work to kill cancer. Although these drugs are divided into groups, there is
some overlap among some of the specific drugs. The following are the types
Ifosfamide is chemically related to the nitrogen mustards and is similar in chemical
structure to cyclophosphamide. Ifosfamide is an alkylating agent. Alkylating
agents are most active in the resting phase of the cell. These drugs are cell-cycle
non-specific. Ifosfamide belongs to the category of mustard gas derivatives.
Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health
care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information
contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute
for medical advice.
Chemocare.com is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit www.4thangel.org