Brand Names

Adriamycin (There may be other brand names for this medication)

How is Doxorubicin Administered?

Your medicine will be given by injection into a vein.

What is Doxorubicin Used For?

This drug is used alone or in combination with other drugs to treat many different types of cancer by interfering with the growth cycle of the cancer cells.

How Does it Work?

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control.    Both normal and cancer cells go through cycles that include a resting phase, active growing phases, and division. Your chemotherapy schedule is based upon the type of cancer you have, the rate at which they divide, and the times when each drug is the most likely to be effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.

Doxorubicin is an anthracycline antibiotic, an antibiotic that is only used in cancer chemotherapy. It attacks the cancer cells in multiple phases of the cells’ normal cycle and slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in your body.

The faster cells are dividing (reproducing), the more likely it is that chemotherapy will damage/kill the cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between cancer cells and normal cells that reproduce frequently. The cells in your body that are the most likely to be affected by chemotherapy are the cells that line the digestive tract (mouth, stomach, intestines), hair follicles, and blood cells.

These normal cells will eventually grow back and be healthy. During treatment, however, you may experience side effects from the chemotherapy’s effects on these normally fast reproducing cells including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss, and decreased blood counts. Low blood counts may cause fatigue, anemia, and a significant decrease in your ability to fight off infections.

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