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Generic Name: arsenic trioxide (AR sen ik trye OX ide)
Brand Name: Trisenox
Physician reviewed Trisenox patient information - includes Trisenox description, dosage and directions.
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Drug Information:
Trisenox is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. Trisenox is used to treat a cancer of the blood and bone marrow called acute promyelocytic (pro-MYE-loe-SIT-ik) leukemia, or APL. Trisenox is sometimes given in combination with another medicine called tretinoin. Trisenox may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide. Trisenox can cause a serious and sometimes fatal complication by changing the way your immune system works. Call your doctor at once if you have a fever, swelling, weight gain, pain when you breathe, rapid heart rate, feeling short of breath, or feeling like you might pass out. Learn more

Trisenox Side Effects

Trisenox Side Effects

Note: This document contains side effect information about arsenic trioxide. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Trisenox.

In Summary

Common side effects of Trisenox include: pleural effusion, dyspnea, fever, leukocytosis, palpitations, prolonged qt interval on ecg, tachycardia, and weight gain. Other side effects include: cardiac arrhythmia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to arsenic trioxide: intravenous solution


Intravenous route (Solution)

Differentiation Syndrome and Cardiac Conduction AbnormalitiesPatients treated with arsenic trioxide may develop differentiation syndrome, which can be fatal. If symptoms occur, initiate high-dose steroids immediately and monitor hemodynamics.Arsenic trioxide can cause QT interval prolongation and ventricular arrhythmia, which can be fatal. Before administering arsenic trioxide, assess the QT interval, correct electrolyte abnormalities, and consider discontinuing drugs known to prolong QT interval. Do not administer arsenic trioxide to patients with ventricular arrhythmia or prolonged QTcF.

Along with its needed effects, arsenic trioxide (the active ingredient contained in Trisenox) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking arsenic trioxide:

More common

  • Chills
  • cough
  • decreased urine output
  • dry mouth
  • eye pain
  • general feeling of illness
  • headache
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nausea
  • numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or lips
  • seizures
  • sore throat
  • trouble breathing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting

Less common

  • Black, tarry stools
  • bluish lips or skin
  • blurred vision
  • chest pain
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • fever
  • flushed, dry skin
  • fruit-like breath odor
  • increased hunger
  • increased urine output
  • irregular or pounding heartbeat or pulse
  • painful or difficult urination
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • stomach ache or cramps
  • sweating
  • swollen glands
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual weight gain

Incidence not known

  • Anxiety
  • behavior changes similar to drunkenness
  • bleeding
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • bluish fingernails, palms, or nailbeds
  • bruising
  • cloudy urine
  • cold sweats
  • cool, pale skin
  • drowsiness
  • large hives or rash
  • persistent bleeding or oozing from puncture sites, mouth, or nose
  • severe nausea
  • shakiness
  • sore mouth or tongue
  • swelling of the eyelids, lips, or face
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking arsenic trioxide:

Symptoms of overdose

  • Confusion
  • muscle weakness, severe

Some side effects of arsenic trioxide may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

  • Diarrhea

Less common

  • Back pain
  • belching
  • bloating or swelling of the face, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • bone pain
  • constipation
  • flushing
  • heartburn
  • heavy non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
  • indigestion
  • injection site pain, redness, or swelling
  • itchy, red skin
  • joint or muscle pain
  • limb pain
  • mental depression
  • neck pain
  • nosebleeds
  • trouble sleeping or getting to sleep
  • weight gain

Incidence not known

  • Agitation
  • blisters inside the mouth
  • coughing or spitting up blood
  • earache
  • eye dryness, redness, or pain
  • loss of bowel or bladder control
  • night sweats
  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • ringing in the ears
  • small red or purple spots on the skin
  • swelling of the abdominal or stomach area
  • swollen, painful, or tender lymph glands in the neck, armpit, or groin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to arsenic trioxide: compounding powder, intravenous solution


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (75%), upper and lower abdominal pain (58%), vomiting (58%), diarrhea (53%), constipation (28%), loose stools (10%), dyspepsia (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Oral blistering, fecal incontinence, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, dry mouth, abdominal tenderness, hemorrhagic diarrhea, abdominal distension, oral candidiasis

Frequency not reported: Dysphagia, mucosal inflammation/stomatitis, oropharyngeal pain, cecitis


Very common (10% or more): Cough (65%), dyspnea (53%), sore throat (35%), APL differentiation syndrome (26.9%), epistaxis (25%), hypoxia (23%), pleural effusion (20%), sinusitis (20%), post nasal drip (13%), upper respiratory tract infection (13%), wheezing (13%), decreased breath sounds (10%), crepitations (10%), rales (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hemoptysis, tachypnea, rhonchi, nasopharyngitis, pleuritic pain, pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage

Frequency not reported: Acute respiratory distress syndrome, lung infiltration, pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, respiratory distress, capillary leak syndrome, pneumonia


Very common (10% or more): Fatigue (63%), pyrexia (63%), non-specific edema (40%), rigors (38%), chest pain (25%), non-specific pain (15%), herpes simplex (13%), vaginal hemorrhage (13%), weakness (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Non-specific bacterial infection, herpes zoster, intermenstrual bleeding, sepsis, earache, tinnitus, chills

Frequency not reported: Death

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (60%), neuropathy (44%), paresthesia (33%), dizziness (23%), tremor (13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Convulsion, somnolence, coma, peripheral neuropathy, seizures

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cerebrovascular accident

Frequency not reported: Neuralgia, cerebral hemorrhage


Very common (10% or more): Tachycardia (55%), QT prolongation (40%), hypotension (25%), flushing (10%), hypertension (10%), pallor (10%), palpitations (10%), premature ventricular contractions (at least 10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Torsade de pointes, abnormal ECG, ventricular extrasystoles and ventricular tachycardia (both in association with QT prolongation), pericardial effusion, vasculitis

Frequency not reported: Complete heart block, cardiac failure


Very common (10% or more): Hypokalemia (50%), hypomagnesemia (45%), hyperglycemia (45%), anorexia (23%), hyperkalemia (18%), decreased appetite (15%), weight gain (13%), hypocalcemia (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Weight loss, hypoglycemia, acidosis, hypernatremia, ketoacidosis, hypermagnesemia, increased blood creatinine

Frequency not reported: Hyponatremia, hypoalbuminemia, hypophosphatemia, increased lipase, dehydration, fluid retention


Very common (10% or more): Leukocytosis (50%), anemia (20%), thrombocytopenia (18%), febrile neutropenia (13%), neutropenia (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Disseminated intravascular coagulation, lymphadenopathy, hemorrhage, thrombosis, pancytopenia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Leucopenia vasculitis

Frequency not reported: Hyperleukocytosis, lymphopenia


Very common (10% or more): Tachycardia (55%), QT prolongation (40%), hypotension (25%), flushing (10%), hypertension (10%), pallor (10%), palpitations (10%), premature ventricular contractions (at least 10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Torsade de pointes, abnormal ECG, ventricular extrasystoles and ventricular tachycardia (both in association with QT prolongation), pericardial effusion, vasculitis

Frequency not reported: Complete heart block, cardiac failure


Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (43%), anxiety (30%), depression (20%)

Common (1% to 10%): Agitation, confusion, mood alteration


Very common (10% or more): Arthralgia (33%), myalgia (25%), bone pain (23%), back pain (18%), limb pain (13%), neck pain (13%)

Common (1% to 10%): Musculoskeletal pain


Very common (10% or more): Increased ALT (20%), increased AST (13%), hepatotoxicity (at least 10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Increased gamma-glutamyltransferase, liver dysfunction, hyperbilirubinemia


Very common (10% or more): Injection site pain (20%), injection site erythema (13%), injection site edema (10%)


Very common (10% or more): Eye irritation (10%), blurred vision (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Dry eye, painful red eye


Common (1% to 10%): Drug hypersensitivity


Common (1% to 10%): Renal failure, renal impairment, oliguria, incontinence

Frequency not reported: Enuresis

Editorial References and Review

Medically reviewed by BestRx Medical Team Last updated on 1/1/2020.

Source: Drugs.com Trisenox