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Chlorambucil oral

Updated 2 Feb 2023 | Alkylating agents


Chlorambucil oral formulations.

Drugs List

  • chlorambucil 2mg tablets
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Hodgkin's disease
    Leukaemia - chronic lymphocytic
    Lymphoma - non-Hodgkin's
    Waldenstrom's macroglobulinaemia

    Unlicensed Uses

    Nephrotic syndrome - steroid sensitive


    Whilst the doses stated below are those recommended by the manufacturer, local cancer network protocols for the relevant indication should be consulted.

    The daily dose should not exceed 100 microgram/kg when lymphocytic infiltration of the bone marrow is present or the bone marrow is hypoplastic.


    Hodgkin's Disease
    Palliative treatment of advanced disease: A typical dosage is 200 microgram/kg/day for 4 to 8 weeks.

    Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
    The usual dosage is 100 to 200 microgram/kg/day for 4 to 8 weeks initially.
    Maintenance therapy is then given either by a reduced daily dosage or intermittent courses of treatment.
    Chlorambucil is useful in the management of patients with advanced diffuse lymphocytic lymphoma and those who have relapsed after radiotherapy.

    Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia
    Initiate after the patient has developed symptoms or when there is evidence of impaired bone marrow function (but not bone marrow failure).
    Initial dose of 150 microgram/kg/day until the total leucocyte count has fallen to 10,000 per microlitre.
    Treatment may be resumed 4 weeks after the end of the first course and continued at a dosage of 100 microgram/kg/day.

    Patients with evidence of bone marrow failure should first be treated with prednisolone and evidence of marrow regeneration should be obtained before commencing treatment with chlorambucil.

    Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinaemia
    Starting doses of 6 to 12 mg daily until leucopenia occurs are recommended followed by 2 to 8 mg daily indefinitely.


    (See Dosage; Adult)


    Relapsing steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (unlicensed)
    Children aged 3 months to 18 years: 200 micrograms/kg once daily for 8 weeks.

    Patients with Renal Impairment

    The Renal Drug Handbook suggests using the same dose as in normal renal function for patients with a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) below 50ml/minute.


    Recent radiotherapy

    Precautions and Warnings

    Bone marrow infiltrated with malignant cells
    Glucose-galactose malabsorption syndrome
    Hepatic impairment
    History of seizures
    Lactose intolerance
    Nephrotic syndrome
    Renal impairment

    Give pre-treatment counselling and consideration of sperm cryopreservation
    May reduce seizure threshold
    Treatment to be prescribed under the supervision of a specialist
    Contains lactose
    Consult local policy on the safe use of oral anti-cancer drugs
    If rash develops, consider possibility of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
    Monitor blood counts regularly
    Monitor serum biochemistry regularly
    Neutrophil count may decrease for up to 10 days after last the dose
    Immunosuppressive drugs may increase risk of malignancy
    May affect immune response to live vaccines
    Potentially leukaemogenic
    Consider dose reduction in severe hepatic impairment
    May cause impaired fertility
    Male & female: Ensure adequate contraception during treatment

    Chlorambucil administration should be avoided if possible or given with great care for at least 4 weeks after radiotherapy or other chemotherapy (unless low doses of radiation have been used on areas remote from the bone marrow and neutrophil and platelet counts are not depressed).

    Children with nephrotic syndrome, patients prescribed high pulse dosing regimens and patients with a history of seizure disorder should be closely monitored as they may have an increased risk of seizures.

    Chlorambucil is classed as probably not porphyrinogenic by the drug database for acute porphyria (NAPOS).

    Pregnancy and Lactation


    Contraindicated in pregnancy.

    Chlorambucil is potentially teratogenic and has demonstrated in vitro and in vivo mutagenicity.

    There is evidence of human foetal risk in a small number of exposed pregnancies particularly those exposed during the first trimester.
    The use of chlorambucil should be avoided whenever possible during pregnancy, however the benefits to the mother may be acceptable despite the risks.

    The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14-17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password at


    Chlorambucil is contraindicated in breastfeeding.

    There is a lack of data on the concentrations which appear in human breast milk but considering the potential for serious adverse effects, women should not breastfeed whilst on chlorambucil treatment.

    Hale (2006) recommends withholding breastfeeding for at least 24 hours after the last dose.

    Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
    Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at

    Side Effects

    Allergic reaction
    Angioneurotic oedema
    Bone marrow damage (irreversible)
    Bone marrow depression
    Impaired fertility
    Interstitial pneumonia
    Mouth ulcers
    Myelodysplastic syndrome
    Peripheral neuropathy
    Pulmonary fibrosis
    Stevens-Johnson syndrome
    Toxic epidermal necrolysis


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Further Information

    Last Full Review Date: May 2013

    Reference Sources

    Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment, 2nd edition (2007). Ed. Schaefer C, Peters P, Miller R. Elsevier, London.

    Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 9th edition (2011) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. and Yaffe, S. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

    Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference, 37th edition (2011) ed. Sweetman, S. Pharmaceutical Press, London.

    Medications and Mothers' Milk, 14th Edition (2010) Hale, T. Hale Publishing, Amarillo, Texas.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Chlorambucil tablets. Aspen. Revised November 2012

    NICE Evidence Services Available at: Last accessed: 22 August 2017

    The Drug Database for Acute Porphyria (NAPOS).
    Available at:
    Chlorambucil Last revised: September 25, 2009
    Last accessed: May 31, 2013

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    Medscape UK | Univadis prescription drug monographs & interactions are based on FDB Multilex Content

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