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Using Allopurinol for Lowering Uric Acid

Sometimes, people undergoing cancer treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiation) develop high uric acid levels. This is often due to "tumor lysis syndrome," a group of problems that occurs when a large tumor is destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation. As the cancer cells are destroyed, they leak uric acid into the blood, leading to very high uric acid levels. Allopurinol can help to lower uric acid levels.
When used for preventing high uric acid levels in cancer patients, allopurinol should only be continued when the patient is at a high risk for this problem (usually only a few days at a time).

Using Allopurinol for Kidney Stones

Allopurinol is approved for preventing recurring kidney stones in people with high uric acid levels in the urine. This medication is useful for uric acid stones as well as calcium oxalate stones (as high uric acid levels can increase the risk of calcium stones). Because taking allopurinol is not without risks, your healthcare provider should periodically reassess your need to keep taking allopurinol for preventing kidney stones.

How Does Allopurinol Work?

Allopurinol works by lowering uric acid levels. This helps to treat gout, as this condition is caused when the levels of uric acid become so high that crystals form inside the joint. The medication lowers uric acid levels by inhibiting xanthine oxidase, an enzyme responsible for producing uric acid in the body. By inhibiting xanthine oxidase, allopurinol slows down the rate at which the body produces uric acid.

Allopurinol Use in Children or Teens

Allopurinol is approved for treating high uric acid levels in children with cancer. It is also sometimes used to treat a rare disease of purine metabolism in children.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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