Arsenic trioxide is often administered to help manage symptoms related to acute leukemia. This medication works by inhibiting cancer cells so that they don’t continue to grow and spread. However, it also inhibits growth of healthy cells and can cause disease; thus, doctors usually prescribe it only in cases where less aggressive treatment has failed to work.
This medication can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. People who are on this medication often feel generally unwell without having specific symptoms they can point to. In some cases, people may have serious or life-threatening symptoms such as difficulty breathing or irregular heartbeat.
In addition, some people develop a worse type of leukemia as a result of taking this medication. This leukemia can be fatal and is characterized by weight gain and fever.