Doxorubicin

Updated 
August 31, 2015
Reviewed By: 

Doxorubicininfo-icon (Adriamycin) is a type of anthracyclineinfo-icon chemotherapyinfo-icon. It is made from the Streptomyces peucetius bacteria. It is used to treat many types of cancer.

Doxorubicin may also be called Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF, doxorubicin hydrochloride, hydroxydaunorubicininfo-icon or Rubexinfo-icon.

How Doxorubicin Works

Doxorubicininfo-icon damages the DNA inside the cancer cells. The damage stops the cells from dividing, which causes them to die.

How Doxorubicin Is Given

Although it can be given alone, doxorubicininfo-icon is usually given with other chemotherapyinfo-icon medicines. Common combinations used in breast cancer are:

Doxorubicin is given by veininfo-icon. It is usually given in several cycles with a day (or days) of treatment followed by a period of “off” days. The exact schedule depends on the group of medicines you receive.

In some cases your doctor may recommend a doseinfo-icon-dense schedule, which means medicines are given with less time between treatments than in a standard chemotherapy treatment plan. For example, one common treatment regimeninfo-icon is dose-dense doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamideinfo-icon (Cytoxaninfo-icon) every 2 weeks for four cycles followed by paclitaxelinfo-icon (Taxolinfo-icon) every 2 weeks for four cycles.

An entire course of chemotherapy usually takes from 3 to 6 months.

Side Effects and Things to Remember

Common side effects include:

Less common side effects include:

Before starting doxorubicininfo-icon, tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counterinfo-icon medicines. You should not take doxorubicin during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Share any existing or previous health problems with your doctor, especially if you have a history of heart disease. Your doctor will test you for heart problems before you start treatment with doxorubicin and will monitor your heart closely during treatment. Your doctor may suggest you drink extra fluids to prevent kidney problems.

Seek immediate medical care if you develop fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, swelling or hives or blistering at the IV site.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacistinfo-icon or nurseinfo-icon about all your side effects so that they can help you manage them. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.