Hydroxyurea (hye-DROX-ee-yoo-REE-ah)belongs to the group of medicines called antimetabolites. It is used to treat some kinds of cancer and to prevent painful episodes associated with sickle cell anemia.
Hydroxyurea seems to interfere with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by hydroxyurea, other effects will also occur. Some of these may be serious and must be reported to your doctor. Other effects may not be serious but may cause concern. Some effects may not occur for months or years after the medicine is used.
When used in sickle cell anemia, hydroxyurea appears to increase the flexibility of sickled cells.
Hydroxyurea affects certain cells in the body, such as cancer cells or sickled red blood cells.
Hydroxyurea is used to treat melanoma (a type of skin cancer), chronic myelocytic leukemia, cancer of the ovary, and primary squamous cell (skin) cancer of the head and neck. Hydroxyurea is also used to treat sickle cell anemia.
Reducing the number of painful episodes and blood transfusions needed by adults with sickle cell anemia experiencing recurrent episodes associated with moderate to severe pain. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Hydroxyurea is an antineoplastic agent. Exactly how it works is unknown, but it is thought to increase the ability of deformed red blood cells to change shape, which may lessen pain associated with sickle cell anemia.