How does this medicine work?

Mercaptopurine (Mer-cap-toe-pur-een) is a chemotherapy medicine used in the treatment of childhood leukemia. It destroys cancer cells by interfering with a specific phase of cell life.

How should I give it?

6-MP comes in a pill, usually given once a day. Your child should be awake and alert when taking any medicine.
For children who cannot swallow pills:

  • Put on gloves
  • Crush the pill between 2 spoons or inside a clear plastic bag.
  • Mix the powder with a small amount of water or juice.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Check with the doctor before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins. Avoid alcohol containing medication (e.g. coughsyrup) and do not give with milk.

Oral 6-MP must be given on an empty stomach (one hour before or two hours after eating) with only water or juice.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If a dose is missed, give it as soon as you remember that day. Never give a double dose.

If your child vomits within 30 minutes after receiving a dose, give it again. If your child vomits after 30 minutes, do not repeat the dose. Call the oncology clinic if more than one dose is missed or vomited.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. It is important to share this information with anyone involved in your child’s care.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand as the pharmacy may need 2 or 3 days to refill the prescription. Check the label for the expiration date. Flush outdated medicines down the toilet instead of putting them in the garbage.

What are the side effects?


  • low blood cell counts


  • loss of appetite
  • mild nausea
  • vomiting
  • skin rashes
  • changes in liver function


  • diarrhea
  • lung changes
  • increased light sensitivity

When should I call the clinic?

Call hematology helpline 982403210 if:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • bleeding or unusual bruising
  • pain while urinating

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward.

Store all medicines in their original container and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children’s reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of chemotherapy medicine is taken, call the oncology clinic immediately


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call:

Hematology Clinic
3rd floor, Kedar
Opp.Krupa Petrol Pump,
Parimal Garden, Ambawadi
Clinic: 07926463219
Whattsapp: 8238065890