Chemotherapy to Treat Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL)

Most newly diagnosed patients with HCL will receive chemotherapy with a purine analog.

Option 1: Chemotherapy with cladribine (2-chlorodeoxyadenosine; 2-CDA; Leustatin)

  • How is it given: Continuous infusion intravenously (IV), the drug is delivered into the veins
  • What is the duration: 7 days
  • What are the side effects: Dose-related neutopenia (granulocytopenia; too few mature granulocytes; bacteria-destroying white blood cells that contain small granules), myelotoxicity (bone marrow damage), neurotoxicity (nervous system damage), immunosuppression (prevention of the immune response), fever, and infection

Option 2: Chemotherapy with pentostatin (2-deoxycoformycin; "DCF"; Nipent)

  • How is it given: Bolus (concentrated dose) infusion intravenously (IV), the drug is delivered into the veins
  • What is the duration: Once every 14 days until maximum response is obtained
  • What are the side effects: Dose-related neutopenia (granulocytopenia; too few mature granulocytes; bacteria-destroying white blood cells that contain small granules), myelotoxicity (bone marrow damage), neurotoxicity (nervous system damage), immunosuppression (prevention of the immune response), fever, and infection.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 24 Sep 2015