Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond



Trade Name: SPRYCEL

SPRYCEL is the trade name for Dasatinib. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name SPRYCEL when referring to the generic drug name Dasatinib.

Drug Type:  Dasatinib is a targeted therapy. Dasatinib is classified as a signal transduction inhibitor - tyrosine kinase inhibitor. (For more detail, see "How this drug works" below).

What Dasatinib Is Used For:

  • Treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) with resistance or intolerance to prior therapy.
  • Treatment of Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with resistance or intolerance to prior therapy.

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 Dasatinib Is Given:

  • Dasatinib is a tablet to be taken by mouth.
  • Dasatinib may be taken with or without food.
  • Do not break, crush or chew Dasatinib tablets.
  • If you miss a dose of Dasatinib, take your next scheduled dose at its regular time.  Do not take 2 doses of Dasatinib at the same time.  Call your healthcare provider if you are not sure what to do. 
  • The amount of Dasatinib that you will receive depends on many factors, such as the type of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact dosage and schedule.

Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of Dasatinib:

  • You will not get all of the Dasatinib side effects mentioned below.
  • Dasatinib side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration, and severity.
  • Dasatinib side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after therapy is complete.
  • Dasatinib side effects are quite manageable. There are many options to minimize or prevent them.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Dasatinib:

  • Low blood counts. Your white and red blood cells and platelets may temporarily decrease. This can put you at increased risk for infection, anemia and/or bleeding.
  • Diarrhea 
  • Headache
  • Bleeding
  • Muscle and bone pain 
  • Fatigue
  • Fever 
  • Rash 
  • Nausea 
  • Fluid retention: fluid accumulation in legs and around the eyes.  In more severe cases (9% in clinical studies) fluid may accumulate in the lining of the lungs (pleural effusion), in the sac around the heart (pericardial effusion) or abdominal cavity (ascites).  Notify your health care provider immediately if you experience swelling, weight gain or increasing shortness of breath. 
  • Infection

These are less common (occurring in 10-29%) side effects for patients receiving Dasatinib:

This list includes common and less common side effects for those taking Dasatinib. Side effects that are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not listed here. But you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Effects On Fertility: The effects of Dasatinib on male and female fertility (meaning, your ability to conceive or father a child), have not been studied.  However, studies in lab animals indicate the potential for Dasatinib to impair reproductive function and fertility. Discuss this issue with your health care provider.

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 100.5° F (38° C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)
  • Experience bleeding or easy bruising. 

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • Swelling, weight gain, or increasing shortness of breath.
  • Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication).
  • Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period).
  • Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period).
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Pain or burning with urination.
  • Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities).
  • Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers).

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.


  • Before starting Dasatinib 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, products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.
  • Dasatinib interacts with many common medications. Be sure to notify your doctor before starting any new medications.
  • Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor’s approval while taking Dasatinib.
  • Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting Dasatinib treatment.  Pregnancy category D (Dasatinib 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: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking dasatinib. Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended.
  • Do not breast feed while taking Dasatinib.

Self-Care Tips:

  • 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 report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water.
  • 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.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
  • 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.
  • 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 doctor while you are taking dasatinib, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work will be obtained 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 Dasatinib Works:

Targeted therapy is the result of about 100 years of research dedicated to understanding the differences between cancer cells and normal cells.  To date, cancer treatment has focused primarily on killing rapidly dividing cells because one feature of cancer cells is that divide rapidly.  Unfortunately, some of our normal cells divide rapidly too, causing multiple side effects. 

Targeted therapy is about identifying other features of cancer cells.  Scientists look for specific differences in the cancer cells and the normal cells.  This information is used to create a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without damaging the normal cells, thus leading to fewer side effects.  Each type of targeted therapy works a little bit differently but all interfere with the ability of the cancer cell to grow, divide, repair and/or communicate with other cells. 

There are different types of targeted therapies, defined in three broad categories.  Some targeted therapies focus on the internal components and function of the cancer cell.  The targeted therapies use small molecules that can get into the cell and disrupt the function of the cells, causing them to die.  There are several types of targeted therapy that focus on the inner parts of the cells.   Other targeted therapies target receptors that are on the outside of the cell.   Therapies that target receptors are also known as monoclonal antibodies.  Antiangiogenesis inhibitors target the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the cells, ultimately causing the cells to starve.

Researchers agree that targeted therapies are not a replacement for traditional therapies.  They may best be used in combination with traditional therapies.  More research is needed to identify which cancers may be best treated with targeted therapies and to identify additional targets for more types of cancer. 

Dasatinib belongs to the signal transduction inhibitor category of targeted therapies.  It particularly interferes with multiple protein-tyrosine kinases.

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. 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