Purinethol® (mercaptopurine) is a medication approved to treat acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that affects bone marrow and certain blood cells. Purinethol works to treat this cancer by preventing DNA from replicating, which is necessary for cancer cells to divide. Because DNA must replicate to divide, Purinethol slows down the growth of cancer cells and may even cause the cancer cells to die.
There may also be times when a healthcare provider may prescribe Purinethol to treat other conditions, such as acute myelogenous leukemia or non-Hodgkin's leukemia; however, these are unapproved ("off-label") uses for the medication.
(Click Purinethol Uses for more details on using this drug to treat acute lymphatic leukemia. This full-length article also discusses whether Purinethol is safe for use in children.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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