Chemotherapy - Adriamycin (Doxorubicin)

doxorubicin structure
Doxoruicin (Adriamycin)

Generic Name: Doxorubicin

Other Brand Name: Rubex

Adriamycin is a chemotherapy drug that is administered for the treatment of several types of cancer, including multiple myeloma, bladder cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and lymphomas. It functions as an antineoplastic, cytotoxic drug, meaning that it is toxic to rapidly growing cells, such as tumors.

This drug is used for both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkins Lymphomas. It is commonly used in conjunction with other chemotherapy drugs in the following regimens:

  • ABVD (adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine)
  • CHOP (cytoxan, adriamycin, oncovin, prednisone)
  • Stanford-V (adriamycin, mustargen, bleomycin, vinblastine, oncovin, etoposide, prednisone)
  • BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, adriamycin, cytoxan, oncovin, prednisone, procarbazine)

Drug Administration

Adriamycin is administered intravenously (IV) by one of two methods. A nurse may inject the drug directly into the IV tube over the course of several minutes or they may use a continuous infusion pump. However, due to adriamycin’s toxic nature, it should only be injected into a vein, not an artery. Nurses should monitor patients closely during administration to ensure that there is no swelling or redness at the injection site, which could indicate damage.

Side Effects

Common side effects include pain at the IV site, nausea, neutropenia and leukopenia (low blood counts), alopecia (hair loss), and the development of sores on the body.

Some less common side effects include darkening of the nail beds and skin, as well as diarrhea and swelling in the hands and feet. Adriamycin may also turn the urine red as it is filtered from the body, but this is usually not blood. This drug can also cause infertility, so talk to your doctor if you are planning on having a family.

The most serious side effects are long term. These include heart problems and secondary cancers, especially leukemia. Your doctor should monitor your health after finishing treatment to ensure that these symptoms do not occur.

For more information on Hodgkin's Lymphoma, please see the following pages:

For more information on Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, please see the following pages:

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