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What to Expect After All-Trans Retinoic Acid for Acute Myeloid Leukemia

You may have side effects from the chemotherapy drugs you take when also getting all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). You could also experience retinoic acid syndrome. Within the first three weeks of treatment, this potentially fatal syndrome causes these symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Chest pain

  • Breathing problems or cough due to backup of fluid in the lungs

  • Low blood pressure

  • Irregular heart beat 

  • Kidney damage

  • Severe fluid retention

If you develop symptoms of retinoic acid syndrome, your doctor may prescribe steroids or have you stop ATRA treatment for a few days.

These are other possible side effects of ATRA. Discuss how best to manage them with your doctor or nurse:

  • Bleeding

  • Headache

  • Drowsiness

  • Dry skin, dry mouth, or cracking at the corners of the mouth

  • Bone pain