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Chlorambucil is available as a pill you can swallow. It is usually given in one of two ways: daily in low doses, or every 2 to 4 weeks in higher doses.

How It Works

Chlorambucil is classified as an alkylating agent. It kills cells by interfering with the way they multiply.

Why It Is Used

Chlorambucil is used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and some lymphomas, such as Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is one of the most commonly used treatments for CLL.1

How Well It Works

Chlorambucil is an effective treatment for CLL.1

Side Effects

Side effects of chlorambucil are common, generally mild, and may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Cough or shortness of breath.
  • Skin rash, which may itch.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Mouth sores (stomatitis).
  • Changes in the way foods taste.
  • Low blood counts, which may make you tired and more likely to get an infection.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Chlorambucil should be used only under the supervision of a medical oncologist or hematologist.

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after taking chlorambucil. Discuss this with your doctor before starting treatment with this drug.

Chlorambucil can cause birth defects. Do not use it if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or to father a child while you are taking it.

Women who take this drug may experience symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Johnston JB, et al. (2009). Chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In JP Greer et al., eds., Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology, 12th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2214–2255. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
Last Revised February 9, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.