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Hydroxyurea (Hydrea)

How does this medicine work?

Hydroxyurea (hye-drok-see-yur-ee-uh) destroys cancer cells by interfering with a specific phase of the cell life cycle. It is also used to help produce normal hemoglobin in persons with sickle cell disease.

How should I give it?

Hydroxyurea comes in capsule form. Give it at regular times to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. Your child should be awake and alert when taking any medicine.

If your child cannot swallow it, put on gloves, open it inside a clear plastic bag, mix the contents with water, and have your child drink it right away. Then wash the glass immediately, and discard the plastic bag and gloves.

Other instructions:






Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

This medicine should be given on an empty stomach (one hour before or two hours after eating). Taking it after meals or at bedtime may reduce the loss of appetite due to the medicine.

Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

Drink plenty of fluids while taking this medicine.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If a dose is missed, give it as soon as you remember that day. Never give a double dose.

If your child throws up within 30 minutes after receiving a dose, give it again. If your child vomits after 30 minutes, do not repeat the dose. Call the oncology clinic if more than one dose is missed or vomited.

What are the side effects?


  • low blood cell counts
  • loss of appetite
  • skin rash
  • mouth sores
  • hair loss
  • drowsiness
  • mild nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation


  • headaches
  • liver or kidney damage
  • hallucinations
  • disorientation
  • lung disease

When should I call the doctor?

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • mouth sores
  • bleeding
  • unusual bruising
  • continued vomiting
  • confusion

What else do I need to know?

Blood samples may be needed to check the effects of the medicine. Blood counts usually return to normal 10 to 30 days after stopping the medicine.

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Anyone handling the contaminated laundry should wear gloves.

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.

Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand. Each time you refill your prescription, check to see how many refills are left. If no refills are left the pharmacy will need 2 or 3 days to contact the clinic to renew the prescription.

Check the label for the expiration date. Bring outdated or extra medicines back to the clinic or pharmacy for disposal. Do not flush them down the toilet or throw them in the garbage.

Store all medicines in their original container and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children's reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of chemotherapy medicine is taken, call the oncology clinic right away.


This 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
Last reviewed 8/2015 

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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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