Uses of Doxorubicin
Doxorubicin is used in combination with other medications to treat certain types of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, and ovarian cancer; Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system); and certain types of leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells), including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML, ANLL). Doxorubicin is also used alone and in combination with other medications to treat certain types of thyroid cancer and certain types of soft tissue or bone sarcomas (cancer that forms in muscles and bones). It is also used to treat neuroblastoma (cancer that begins in nerve cells and occurs mainly in children) and Wilms’ tumor (a type of kidney cancer that occurs in children). Doxorubicin is in a class of medications called anthracyclines. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body.
Side Effects of Doxorubicin
Doxorubicin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- sores in the mouth and throat
- loss of appetite (and weight loss)
- weight gain
- stomach pain
- increased thirst
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- hair loss
- separation of fingernail or toenail from the nail bed
- itchy, red, watery, or irritated eyes
- eye pain
- pain, burning or tingling in the hands or feet
- red discoloration of urine (for 1 to 2 days after dose)
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- skin rash
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
Doxorubicin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before receiving doxorubicin injection:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to doxorubicin, daunorubicin (Cerubidine, DaunoXome), epirubicin (Ellence), idarubicin (Idamycin), any other medications, or any of the ingredients in doxorubicin injection. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section and any of the following: certain chemotherapy medications such as cytarabine (DepoCyt), dexrazoxane (Zinecard), mercaptopurine (Purinethol), streptozocin (Zanosar); phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium); or phenytoin (Dilantin). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Other medications may also interact with doxorubicin, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any other medical conditions.
- you should know that doxorubicin may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should tell their doctors before they begin receiving this drug. You should not become pregnant or breast-feed while you are receiving doxorubicin injection. If you become pregnant while receiving doxorubicin, call your doctor. Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Doxorubicin may harm the fetus.
- do not have any vaccinations without talking to your doctor.
Doxorubicin comes as a solution (liquid) or as a powder to be mixed with liquid to be injected intravenously (into a vein) by a doctor or nurse in a medical facility. It is usually given once every 21 to 28 days. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain tests to check your body’s response to doxorubicin.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.