Doxorubicin: Uses & Sides Effects

Doxorubicin is a cancer medication that
interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. Doxorubicin
is used to treat different types of cancers that affect the breast, bladder,
ovary, thyroid, stomach, lungs, bones, nerve tissues, muscles, joints, and soft
tissues. Doxorubicin is also used to treat Hodgkin’s disease and certain types
of leukemia.

is doxorubicin given?

Doxorubicin is injected into a vein through
an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Doxorubicin is sometimes given together
with other cancer medications. You may be given other medications to prevent
nausea, vomiting, or infections.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any
burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when doxorubicin is injected.

If any of this medication accidentally gets
on your skin, wash it thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Doxorubicin can lower blood cells that help
your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to
be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of
these tests.


You should not use this medicine if you are
allergic to doxorubicin or similar medications (doxorubicin, daunorubicin,
epirubicin, idarubicin, mitoxantrone), or if you have:

  • an untreated or uncontrolled infection (including mouth sores);
  • severe liver disease;
  • severe heart problems;
  • if you have recently had a heart attack.

To make sure doxorubicin is safe for you,
tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • bone marrow suppression;
  • heart disease or a history of heart failure;
  • if you have been treated before with doxorubicin, daunorubicin,
    epirubicin, idarubicin, or mitoxantrone.

Tell your doctor about all other cancer
medicines or radiation treatments you have received in the past.

Using doxorubicin may increase your risk of
developing a bone marrow disease or other types of leukemia later in life. Ask
your doctor about your specific risk.

Do not use doxorubicin if you are pregnant.
It could harm the unborn baby or cause birth defects. Use birth control to
prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine, whether you are a man or a
woman. Doxorubicin use by either parent may cause birth defects.

If you are a woman, you should avoid
pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after
your last dose.

If you are a man, use effective birth
control if your sexual partner is able to get pregnant. An unborn baby can be
harmed if a man fathers the child while he is using doxorubicin. Keep using
birth control for at least 6 months after your last dose.


Get emergency medical help if you have
signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your
face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the
injection. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, nauseated,
light-headed, sweaty, or have a headache, chest tightness, back pain, trouble
breathing, or swelling in your face.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pain, blisters, or skin sores where the injection was given;
  • missed menstrual periods;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum),
    purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • low white blood cell counts–fever, swollen gums, painful mouth
    sores, pain when swallowing, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, cough, trouble
  • signs of heart problems–fast heartbeats, shortness of breath (even
    with mild exertion), swelling in your ankles or feet.

Doxorubicin may cause your urine to turn a
reddish-orange color. This side effect by itself is usually not harmful.
However, call your doctor if you also have upper stomach pain, clay-colored
stools, or jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes).

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;
  • hair loss.

Always consult your healthcare provider to
ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal

Keyword: doxorubicin.

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