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Tretinoin is used with other medications (e.g., chemotherapy) to treat a certain type of cancer of the white blood cells (APL-acute promyelocytic leukemia). APL is a disease of too many white blood cells that do not mature or function properly. This medication is used to lessen the signs and severity of this disease (induce remission). Further treatment after remission will be determined by your doctor. Tretinoin works by promoting the growth of normal, mature cells in the bone marrow and blood. This medication helps to reverse symptoms of APL such as infections, tiredness, and bleeding. Tretinoin belongs to a class of drugs known as retinoids, which are related to vitamin A.
Take this medication by mouth, usually twice a day or as directed by your doctor. It may be taken with food.
Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it at the same times each day. The dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to therapy. Follow your doctor's directions for how long to take this medication.
Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often without your doctor's approval. Your condition will not improve any faster and the risk of serious side effects may be increased.
Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the capsules.
See also Warning section.
Headache, dizziness, fever, weakness, tiredness, dry mouth, dry skin, other skin changes, thinning hair, nausea, vomiting, itching, bone pain, mouth sores, increased sweating, and earache may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Headache may occur several hours after taking a dose. Mild pain medications (e.g., acetaminophen) usually help relieve these headaches, which tend to go away as your body gets used to tretinoin. Talk with your doctor about which pain relievers are right for you.
To relieve dry mouth, suck on (sugarless) hard candy or ice chips, chew (sugarless) gum, drink water, or use a saliva substitute.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, hearing problems (e.g., hearing loss), signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine), mental/mood changes, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat.
Seek immediate medical attention if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: severe headache, persistent nausea/vomiting, vision changes, chest pain, jaw/left arm pain, trouble breathing, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, confusion, pain/redness/swelling of arms/legs.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
Before taking tretinoin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to vitamin A-related drugs (other retinoids such as isotretinoin); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as soybean, paraben preservatives), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Some people who are allergic to peanuts may also be allergic to soy. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: liver disease, high cholesterol/triglycerides (blood fats).
This drug may make you dizzy or cause severe headaches or vision changes. Alcohol or marijuana can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana.
Children may be more sensitive to the effects of this drug, especially if they are also taking tetracycline medication. Tell your doctor right away if your child experiences severe headache, nausea/vomiting, or vision problems.
Do not donate blood while you are taking this medication and for at least 1 month after you stop taking it. This will prevent the possibility of your blood being given to a pregnant woman.
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects and harm to an unborn baby. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, inform your doctor right away. Use two effective forms of birth control together to prevent pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about reliable birth control options. (See also Warning section.) Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the capsules.
It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Store at room temperature between 59-86 degrees F (15-30 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: drugs that prevent bleeding (anti-fibrinolytic drugs such as aminocaproic acid, aprotinin, tranexamic acid), hydroxyurea, ketoconazole, "mini-pill" (progesterone birth control pills that do not contain estrogen), tetracyclines, sulfisoxazole containing drugs, vitamin A.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., complete blood counts, liver function, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, pregnancy tests) should be performed to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.