Sprycel (Dasatinib) - Oral

What Is Sprycel?

Sprycel (dasatinib) is a medication in the class of tyrosine kinase inhibitors used to treat certain types of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adults and children 1 and older.

Dasatinib blocks the action of specific kinases, which are abnormal proteins that signal cancer cells to multiply. Blocking the activity of these proteins stops the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Sprycel is an oral cancer medication. It is available in tablet form to be taken by mouth.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Dasatinib

Brand Name(s): Sprycel

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Antineoplastic agent

Available Generically: No

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Dasatinib

Dosage Form(s): Tablet

What Is Sprycel Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sprycel for five uses:

  • Chronic phase, Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome-positive CML in adults who are newly diagnosed
  • Ph chromosome-positive CML in adults who had disease progression or did not tolerate previous therapy with Gleevec (imatinib)
  • Ph chromosome-positive ALL in adults who have received prior therapy
  • Chronic phase Ph chromosome-positive CML in children 1 year and older
  • Ph chromosome-positive ALL in combination with other therapies in children 1 year and older

CML is a malignant hematopoietic stem cell cancer. Hematopoietic stem cells (also called blood stem cells) are a type of cell that can develop into blood cells such as white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. They are generally found in the peripheral blood and bone marrow. CML is characterized by cells containing the Ph chromosome.

ALL is cancer that starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the blood. Sometimes, it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes and organs.

How to Take Sprycel

Take Sprycel as prescribed, usually once daily, around the same time. It can be taken with or without food. Swallow the tablets whole; do not crush, break, or chew them.

Grapefruit products (e.g., grapefruit juice) should be avoided while taking Sprycel. Additionally, do not take medications that block or decrease stomach acid, as they will interfere with how well Sprycel is absorbed in the body.

Storage

Store Sprycel in its original packaging at room temperature (between 68 F and 77 F). Do not store it in the bathroom.

Because Sprycel is an antineoplastic agent and is considered hazardous, it should be handled and disposed of with care. Exposure to crushed or broken tablets can especially pose a risk; therefore, you should wear gloves while handling any tablets that have been accidentally broken. Pregnant people should avoid exposure to broken tablets entirely. Ask your healthcare provider how to dispose of the medication properly.

How Long Does Sprycel Take to Work

In the DASISION clinical trial, 54% of people taking dasatinib showed a complete response to treatment at three months and 73% showed a response at six months. This was compared with 31% and 59% of people taking imatinib showing response at three and six months, respectively. In this study, dasatinib was used as a first-line treatment for CML.

What Are the Side Effects of Sprycel?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

The common side effects that can be experienced with Sprycel include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Fluid retention
  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Bleeding

Children who are receiving Sprycel combined with chemotherapy may also have:

  • Mucositis (swelling, pain, and redness of the lining of the mouth, throat, stomach, and bowel)
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cough
  • Constipation
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nose bleeds
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Numbness or tingling of the hands or feet
  • Infections (bacterial, viral, and fungal)

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare team immediately if you experience serious side effects while taking Sprycel. Call 911 if you feel the symptoms are life-threatening or if you’re experiencing a medical emergency. Serious side effects and symptoms can include the following:

  • Low white blood cell counts (leukopenia), which can lead to infection
  • Bleeding problems: Symptoms may include dark or tarry stool, headache, change in alertness, vision changes, and abnormal bleeding or bruising.
  • Heart problems: Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, abnormal heartbeat, palpitations, vision changes, and slurred speech.
  • Pulmonary artery hypertension: Symptoms may include shortness of breath and swelling all over the body.
  • Tumor lysis syndrome: Symptoms may include kidney failure, abnormal electrolyte levels in the blood, weakness, nausea, swelling, muscle cramps, and seizures.

Long-Term Side Effects

Children who take Sprycel may experience delayed growth in their bones.

Additionally, Sprycel can affect a person's fertility. If this is a concern for you, talk to your healthcare provider about your options for conceiving post-treatment.

Report Side Effects

Sprycel may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Sprycel Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For the treatment of chronic phase CML:
      • Adults—At first, 100 milligrams (mg) once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
      • Children 1 year of age and older—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor.
        • Weighs 45 kilograms (kg) or more—At first, 100 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Weighs 30 kg to less than 45 kg—At first, 70 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Weighs 20 kg to less than 30 kg—At first, 60 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Weighs 10 kg to less than 20 kg—At first, 40 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
      • Children younger than 1 year of age and weigh less than 10 kg—Use is not recommended.
    • For the treatment of accelerated or blast crisis CML or Ph+ ALL:
      • Adults—At first, 140 milligrams (mg) once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
      • Children 1 year of age and older—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor.
        • Weighs 45 kilograms (kg) or more—At first, 100 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Weighs 30 kg to less than 45 kg—At first, 70 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Weighs 20 kg to less than 30 kg—At first, 60 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
        • Weighs 10 kg to less than 20 kg—At first, 40 mg once a day, given either in the morning or in the evening. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
      • Children younger than 1 year of age and weigh less than 10 kg—Use is not recommended.

Modifications

Dose adjustments may be required if you experience any significant side effects. Your oncologist may temporarily stop the medication before resuming it at a different dose.

Missed Dose 

If you miss a dose of Sprycel, skip the missed dose and take it at the next scheduled time. A double dose should not be taken.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Sprycel?

If you take too much Sprycel, contact the healthcare provider on the next steps. Overdosing on Sprycel can potentially cause severely low blood cell counts and a higher risk for infection and bleeding.

What Happens If I Overdose on Spyrcel?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Sprycel, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Sprycel, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check your or your child's progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests will be needed to check for unwanted effects. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Female patients should use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment with this medicine and for 30 days after your last dose. Male patients who have female partners should use effective birth control during treatment with this medicine and for at least 30 days after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.

Dasatinib can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:

  • If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor right away if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
  • Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
  • Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
  • Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
  • Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.

Dasatinib may cause fluid retention, including pleural effusion (fluid build-up around your lungs). Check with your doctor right away if you have a decrease in the amount of urine, noisy or rattling breathing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the fingers, hands, feet, or lower legs, trouble breathing, or weight gain.

This medicine can cause changes in heart rhythm, including QT prolongation. It may change the way your heart beats and cause fainting or serious side effects in some patients. Check with your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of heart rhythm problems, including a fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat.

Check with your doctor right away if you have chest discomfort or pain, decreased urine output, fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat, swelling of the feet or lower legs, trouble breathing, or unusual tiredness or weakness. These could be symptoms of a serious heart or blood vessel problem (eg, heart attack, stroke).

Using this medicine may cause headache, muscle or joint pain, skin rash, or unusual tiredness or weakness. If these symptoms persist and become worse, check with your doctor.

This medicine may increase your risk of having a condition called pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs). This may occur at anytime during treatment with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have trouble breathing, tiredness, or swelling all over your body (fluid retention).

Serious skin reactions (eg, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme) can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, chills, cough, diarrhea, red irritated eyes, red skin lesions, often with a purple center, severe acne or skin rash, sore throat, sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips, or unusual tiredness or weakness while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may cause a serious type of reaction called tumor lysis syndrome. Your doctor may give you a medicine to help prevent this. Call your doctor right away if you have a decrease or change in urine amount, joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, lower back, side, or stomach pain, a rapid weight gain, swelling of the feet or lower legs, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

This medicine may cause slowed growth and development in children. Your child's doctor may want to monitor their weight and growth regularly. Talk to your child's doctor if you have concerns.

Talk with your doctor before using this medicine if you plan to have children. Some men and women who use this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal (eg, St. John's wort) or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Sprycel?

Sprycel should not be taken during pregnancy or if attempting to conceive, as it has the potential of causing miscarriage or severe birth defects. Contraception should be used while taking Sprycel and for 30 days after stopping for both males and females (sex assigned at birth).

What Other Medications Interact With Sprycel?

Other medications may affect how Sprycel works or how much of the drug is absorbed in the body. Conversely, Sprycel may also alter the way other medications work when taken together.

Medications that interact with Sprycel include:

This is not a complete list of drug interactions, and others may occur. Always share a list of your prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements with a healthcare provider to help avoid potential interactions.

What Medications Are Similar?

Other medications in the same class as Sprycel, which are used to treat CML, include:

  • Gleevec (imatinib)
  • Tasigna (nilotinib)
  • Bosulif (bosutinib)
  • Iclusig (ponatinib)

Not all of these medications can be used interchangeably. The phase of CML, previous therapy use, and other genetic characteristics are considered when the oncologist makes treatment decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Sprycel used for?

    Sprycel is used to treat Philadelphia chromosome-positive CML or ALL in both adults and children.

  • What are the side effects of Sprycel?

    The most common side effects of Sprycel include:

    • Diarrhea
    • Headache
    • Rash
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea
    • Muscle pain
    • Fluid retention

    More serious side effects of Sprycel include:

    • Low blood counts
    • Bleeding problems
    • Heart problems
    • Pulmonary artery hypertension
    • Tumor lysis syndrome
  • When do I stop taking Spyrcel?

    Sprycel should not be stopped unless instructed by the ordering healthcare provider. If experiencing concerning side effects, discuss them with the healthcare team before stopping the medication. How long you are on this treatment will depend on your disease. In clinical trials, children with Philadelphia chromosome-positive ALL took Sprycel for a maximum of two years.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Sprycel?

Taking care of yourself when you have CML or ALL and using Sprycel as prescribed is critical to treating these cancers.

If you are taking multiple medications, try using a medication reminder app so that you don't mix up your schedule or miss any doses. Cancer medications are also hazardous and should be handled and stored with care. Be sure to keep these out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental consumption. If a pill accidentally breaks or is crushed, wear gloves when cleaning it up.

Remember, you can talk to your oncology team about any concerns or problems with this medication. They can help manage side effects and offer educational resources.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bristol Myers Squibb. Sprycel label.

  2. Chen R, Chen B. The role of dasatinib in the management of chronic myeloid leukemia. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2015;9:773-779. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S80207

  3. American Cancer Society. What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)?

  4. Cortes JE, Saglio G, Kantarjian HM, et al. Final 5-year study results of DASISION: the dasatinib versus imatinib study in treatment-naïve chronic myeloid leukemia patients trial. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34(20):2333-2340. doi:10.1200/JCO.2015.64.8899

  5. American Cancer Society. Targeted therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia.

By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.