This page contains brief details about the drug , it's indication, dosage & administaration, mechanism of action, related brands with strength, warnings and common side effects.

Background and Date of Approval

Hydroxyurea is an anticancer medication containing the active ingredient as hydroxyurea. It is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (cancer of white blood cells) and polycythemia vera (cancer of red blood cells). The benefits of this medication include treating cancer by slowing down the growth and division of cancer cells and treating sickle cell anemia by reducing the frequency and severity of painful episodes and preventing organ damage. It treats cervical, ovarian, melanoma (skin cancer), and head and neck cancer. Cancer is a disorder in which cells multiply uncontrolled and abnormally. Hydroxyurea was first approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1967 for treating certain types of cancer, including chronic myelogenous leukemia and certain types of skin cancer. Over the years, its uses have expanded to include treating other conditions.

Mechanism of Action of undefined

In cancer, hydroxyurea works by slowing down the growth and division of cancer cells, which can help to shrink tumors and prevent the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. This can lead to a reduction in the size and number of tumors, which may improve symptoms and increase survival rates. In sickle cell anemia, this medication works by increasing the production of fetal hemoglobin, which can help to prevent the abnormal shaping of red blood cells. This can reduce the frequency and severity of painful episodes, prevent damage to organs, and improve the overall quality of life. It also reduces the need for blood transfusions and hospitalization. It prevents complications such as stroke, acute chest syndrome, and pulmonary hypertension.

Uses of undefined

Hydroxyurea is a medication that has been approved for the treatment of various medical conditions. These include ovarian cancer, polycythemia vera, chronic myeloid leukemia, cervical cancer, head and neck cancer, and sickle cell anemia.

undefined Drug administaration and Dosage available

Hydroxyurea should be taken exactly as prescribed by a healthcare provider. It is typically taken orally as a capsule or tablet, once daily or as directed by the healthcare provider. The medication should be taken with a full glass of water and can be taken with or without food, depending on the individual's preference and tolerability.

If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible unless it is close to the time for the next scheduled dose. In that case, the missed dose should be skipped, and the regular dosing schedule should be resumed. It is important not to take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

Warnings, Precautions and Side Effects of undefined


Hydroxyurea comes with several warnings, which should be considered before starting treatment. The medication can cause serious side effects, such as lung toxicity, liver toxicity, and severe skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Additionally, there is a risk of developing secondary cancers, such as leukemia, with long-term use of it. It can also lower blood counts, increasing the risk of infection, anemia, and bleeding.


Several precautions should be considered before taking hydroxyurea. It is important to monitor blood counts regularly while taking it. Effective contraception should be used during treatment to avoid the risk of harm to a developing fetus. You should inform your healthcare provider of all medications and supplements you are taking before starting treatment. You should avoid radiation exposure and take precautions to prevent infection while taking this medication, as the medication can suppress the immune system. Finally, this medication should be used cautiously in patients with liver or kidney problems, as it can cause liver or kidney toxicity.

Side Effects

Hydroxyurea can cause various side effects, ranging from mild to serious. Common side effects may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and mouth sores. It can also cause changes in blood counts, such as a decrease in white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This can increase the risk of infection, anemia, and bleeding. In addition, it may cause skin rash, itching, and skin darkening. More serious side effects, such as severe skin reactions, lung toxicity, and liver toxicity, can occur.

Word Of Advice

Hydroxyurea is a powerful medication that can have potentially serious side effects. Therefore, following your healthcare provider's instructions for taking the medication and reporting any side effects or changes in your health is important. Women taking contraceptives should inform a doctor before the treatment. If you are a woman who could become pregnant, use effective birth control during the treatment and for at least three months after the last dose. Before taking medication, tell your doctor about liver, lung, or kidney disease. You should use sun protection while taking this medication. It is recommended that patients undergoing cancer treatment eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins and limit their intake of processed and high-fat foods. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated are also important.

Frequently Asked Question


  1. Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Unlimited Company, Electronic medicines compendium (EMC), [Revised on August 2021] [ Accessed on 17 April 2023],
  2. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, US Food and Drug Administration, [Revised on March 2016] [ Accessed on 17th April 2023],,s048Lbl.pdf
  3. Goodman & Gilman’s, The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, Cytotoxic agents, 12th edition, 2011, 1721.
  4. KD Tripathi, Essentials of Medical Pharmacology, Anticancer drugs, 7th edition, 2013, 868.
  5. Rohit Kumar Agarwal et al; Hydroxyurea in Sickle Cell Disease: Drug Review; Indian Journal of Hematology & Blood Transfusion; Published on June 2014; Accessed on 17 April 2023;


The drug information on this page is not a substitute for medical advice. It is meant for educational purposes only. For further details, consult your doctor about your medical condition to know if you can receive this treatment.