Daunorubicin (Generic Name)

Other Names: Cerubidine®, Daunomycin, Rubidomycin

About This Drug

Daunorubicin is a drug used to treat cancer. It is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (Common)

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Bone marrow depression usually occurs seven to 14 days after the drug is given and may increase your risk of infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Nausea and vomiting. These symptoms may occur within hours after you receive the drug and may last several hours.
  • Hair loss. Most patients experience scalp and body hair loss. You may notice hair thinning several days after receiving this drug. Usually hair loss is temporary; your hair should grow back when treatment is completed.
  • Skin and tissue irritation. You may have redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the IV site. This irritation occurs if the drug leaks out of the vein and into surrounding tissue.
  • Effects on the heart. This drug may cause an irregular heartbeat or fluid accumulation. Your heart function will be checked as needed.
  • Urine may be slightly pink or red beginning several hours after you get this drug. This will gradually go away within one to two days.
  • Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that are painful.

Sexual Problems and Reproductive Concerns

  •  In men and women both, this drug may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are receiving this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period. Women may experience signs of menopause like vaginal dryness or itching.
    • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
    • Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
    • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred. 
    • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.
    • Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of gently brushing with a very soft tooth brush and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bedtime. 
  • Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • During the IV infusion, if you experience pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion, please tell your nurse immediately.
  • Speak with your nurse about obtaining a wig before you lose your hair.  Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “Look Good...Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and  skin and nail care.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of Daunorubicin with food. There are known possible interactions with Trastuzumab (Herceptin),Paclitaxel (Taxol), and Docetaxel (Taxol). Discuss with your doctor if you are taking any of those medications before starting this one. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

Important Instructions

Discuss with your doctor before getting any vaccinations while taking Daunorubicin.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than three times in one day
  • Redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the IV site while you are receiving this drug
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat
  • Swelling of ankles
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Difficulty breathing while lying flat

 

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Painful mouth or throat that makes it difficult to eat or drink

Revised November 2011 

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