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Aldesleukin (Interleukin-2, Proleukin)

How does this medicine work?

Aldesleukin (al-des-loo-kin) boosts the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

How is it given?

Aldesleukin is given into the vein (IV), by a continuous or an intermittant infusion. It is sometimes given by injection (shot).

If treatments are given at home, store the medicine in the refrigerator. Do not freeze it. It keeps for 48 hours. If it is older than 48 hours, throw it away.

Take the medicine out of the refrigerator one hour before the treatment, and let it warm to room temperature in a clean, dry place.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Tell your doctor or nurse practitioner if you are taking antibiotics or medicines for pain, high blood pressure, nausea, or anxiety. Aldesleukin may change how these medications work.

Check with your doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines. This includes vaccines.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

Please call the clinic. Never give a double dose.

What are the side effects?


  • fever, chills 
  • feeling ill (flu like symptoms) 
  • feeling tired 
  • nausea and/or vomiting 
  • diarrhea 
  • fast heart rate 
  • mouth sores 
  • low blood pressure 
  • itching, rash 
  • increased liver and kidney function tests 
  • fluid build-up in tissues
  • confusion 
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of appetite 
  • decreased platelet and red blood cell production


  • leakage of fluid in lungs resulting in severe trouble breathing 
  • irregular heartbeat 
  • kidneys unable to rid body of acids 
  • decreased magnesium and calcium levels in blood
  • anxiety
  • dizziness 
  • cough, difficulty breathing 
  • runny nose
  • inflammation and peeling of skin 
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • infection
  • pain, abdominal pain
  • abdominal enlargement
  • weight gain, fluid build-up 
  • decreased white blood cell production
  • decreased ability to urinate


  • allergic reactions
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma
  • mental disorder
  • periodically stopping breathing
  • abnormal blood clotting ability
  • kidneys stop working
  • chest pain
  • heart attack
  • sudden death

When should I call the doctor?

  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • fast weight gain, fluid build-up
  • chest pain
  • bloody or black, tarry bowel movement 
  • bloody vomit
  • confusion, irritability or depressed mood
  • urinating less than usual
  • yellowing of skin or eyes
  • signs of allergic reaction:
    • rash or hives
    • wheezing
    • trouble breathing (call 911)

What else do I need to know?

For females of child-bearing age:
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with aldesleukin. Do not get pregnant while you are taking it. If you are sexually active, use an effective method of birth control.

Tell your doctor if your child has a thyroid disorder, Crohn's disease, lupus, seizures, or an infection caused by bacteria. Aldesleukin can make these problems worse.

Infections can occur more easily while on this medicine. Stay away from crowds or people who are ill.

Regular blood tests are needed while receiving this medicine. Keep all of the appointments.

Medicines may be given before the dose to reduce the chance of fever and chills.

This medicine can cause nausea and vomiting. Medicine may be prescribed to prevent this. Call the clinic if it does not help.

Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care.

Store all medicines in their original container, out of children's reach.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the oncology clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Patient/Family Education
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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