What is Hydroxydaunorubicin?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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Hydroxydaunorubicin is a chemotherapy medication used alone or in combination with other drugs to combat several different kinds of cancer. The drug is especially significant in the treatment of common blood and bone marrow cancers. It works by disrupting the synthesis of DNA in cancer cells, stopping them from reproducing and spreading malignancy to nearby tissue. Doctors and nurses usually administer hydroxydaunorubicin though an intravenous (IV) line once every three weeks for a carefully designated time period. Short- and long-term side effects can cause serious health complications, so it is important to inform health-care professionals of any adverse reactions to the drug so proper treatment can be arranged.

Blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma are very difficult to treat. Surgery is rarely an option, and bone marrow transplants may only provide some relief. Chemotherapy with hydroxydaunorubicin and several other drugs is the most effective form of treatment for such disorders. Several other cancers also respond well to hydroxydaunorubicin, including breast, ovarian, liver, bone, and stomach malignancies. The drug may also be used to help combat tumors elsewhere in the body.


Each patient's treatment schedule with hydroxydaunorubicin and combination drugs is different. Dosage amounts and frequencies depend on specific conditions and their severity as well as patients' age, gender, and overall health. Most adults who have blood cancers receive a slow-drip hydroxydaunorubicin IV on the first day of a three-week treatment schedule, followed by other drugs. The three-week intervals can continue for three to six months at a time or until symptoms start to improve.

Like most chemotherapy drugs, hydroxydaunorubicin can lead to adverse side effects. The problem is that the drug cannot single out cancer cells in the bloodstream and elsewhere in the body. Healthy white blood cells are also damaged during treatment. As a result, the immune system becomes less effective at fighting off infections. A person may also experience hair loss during a long course of treatment, increased tear production, and easy fatigue. Serious problems such as anemia, heart failure, seizures, and partial muscle paralysis are uncommon but possible.

Short-term side effects can also occur with hydroxydaunorubicin use. Shortly after receiving a dose, a patient may feel lightheaded, dizzy, and nauseous. Vomiting, chills, and joint pain are common, and some people experience mild allergic rashes at injection sites. Doctors carefully monitor treatment to treat short-term symptoms accordingly and make sure serious problems do not arise.


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