Doxorubicin Hydrochloride

Adriamycin, Rubex and Doxil are trade names for Doxorubicin Hydrochloride, an intravenous chemotherapy agent used in the treatment of stomach cancer.

This is one of several drugs that you may be offered as treatment for your cancer.

About Doxorubicin Hydrochloride

This is an intravenous drug that has been designed to kill the cancer cells.

It is anthracycline antibiotic which can be used in a variety of cancers including stomach, breast, bladder, lung and sarcoma’s too.

It is normally administered through a central line such a Hickman or Midline as it can be irritant to the vein resulting in phlebitis if administered through a peripheral cannula.

Doxorubicin Effects

Like all agents, side effects are common and may include:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore Mouth
  • Alopecia or Hair Loss (reversible on stopping the drug)
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Bruising
  • Localised Pain
  • Bone Marrow Suppression between 7 and 14 days from administration. This results in lowering of the white blood cells often referred to as neutropenia, although it can affect all blood cells. This makes infections more likely and it is important to monitor for fevers during this time. It normally takes at least 21 days for the bone marrow to recover.
  • Coloured Urine
  • Rashes
  • Cardiotoxicity – The drug can cause a cardiomyopathy or weakened heart and is normally dose related so you will only be allowed a certain amount of this agent.

Chemotherapy Precautions

If you are being offered this treatment, you must make your doctor aware if you have developed any symptoms or infection before it is administered such as fever, chills, sore throats, colds, diarrhea and urine symptoms.

This is very important as administration of the drug is likely to result in worsening of your symptoms and could potentially put your life at risk.

If you are female, you should take precautions to prevent pregnancy as the drug is teratogenic i.e. it will harm the unborn baby.

After administration you should monitor for side effects and should contact your oncologist if you develop any fever, abnormal bleeding, unexplained bruising, cough, sore throat, breathlessness, pain or are concerned about any other potential ill effects.

Success Rates

The response rate for Doxorubicin Hydrochloride is approximately 15 to 20% in advanced cancer.

Combination chemotherapy with other agents is usually advised to get as good a response as possible with proven efficacy from trial work.

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