Highlights for liposomal-doxorubicin
Doxorubicin is an injected drug that’s used to treat ovarian cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, and multiple myeloma.
This drug comes in the form of an injectable suspension. It’s infused into your vein by a healthcare provider.
Doxorubicin liposome is available as the brand-name drug Doxil. It’s also available as a generic drug.
The more common side effects of this drug include tiredness, weakness or lack of energy, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, or fever.
In some cases, doxorubicin liposome can cause serious side effects. These include heart failure or other heart problems and serious reactions caused by the infusion.
Doxorubicin liposome is a prescription drug. It’s available in an intravenous (IV) form. It can be infused only by a healthcare provider who has experience giving chemotherapy drugs. You must go to a clinic or hospital to receive this drug. You won’t be able administer this drug at home.
Doxorubicin liposome is available as a brand-name drug called Doxil. It’s also available as a generic drug.
Doxorubicin liposome may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.
Why it's used
Doxorubicin liposome is used to treat three types of cancer:
- Multiple myeloma. For this condition, this drug is used in combination with another drug called bortezomib. It’s prescribed for people who have tried at least one other cancer treatment that hasn’t worked.
- Ovarian cancer. For this condition, this drug is used after a treatment called platinum-based chemotherapy hasn’t worked.
- AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. For this condition, this drug is used after other types of chemotherapy haven’t worked.
How it works
Doxorubicin liposome belongs to a class of drugs called anthracyclines. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
Doxorubicin liposome prevents cancer cells from forming or growing properly. This leads to the destruction of the cancer cells.
liposomal-doxorubicin Side Effects
Most Common Side Effects
The more common side effects of doxorubicin liposome can include:
weakness or lack of energy
loss of appetite
hand-foot syndrome (skind damage to the hands and feet)
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious Side Effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
Heart problems. These can include:
- angina, with symptoms that can include:
- chest pain
- arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems), with symptoms
that can include:
- increased heart rate
- feeling like your heart is skipping a beat
- heart failure, with symptoms that can include:
- shortness of breath
- unusual swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet
- weight gain
- angina, with symptoms that can include:
Infusion-related reactions. Symptoms can include:
- flushing (sudden redness and warmth in your face)
- shortness of breath, or stopping breathing for a short time
- low blood pressure, with symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- swelling of your face
- back pain
- chest or throat tightness
- rapid heart rate
More frequent or long-lasting infections, caused by a low level of white blood cells. Symptoms can include:
- cold symptoms that don’t go away, such as a runny nose or sore throat
- flu symptoms, such as cough, tiredness, or body aches
- pain during urination
- white patches in the mouth or throat
Anemia, caused by a low level of red blood cells. Symptoms can include:
- pale skin
- extreme tiredness
- feeling lightheaded
- fast heartbeat
Bleeding, caused by a low level of platelets (cells that help your blood to clot). Symptoms can include:
- unexplained bruising
bleeding, or bleeding that lasts a long time, such as:
- unusual bleeding from your gums
- frequent nosebleeds
- menstrual bleeding that’s heavier than normal
- coughing up blood
- vomiting blood, or having vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- bloody urine
- dark or bloody stools
This drug can:
- Cause tiredness. You should have a friend or loved one drive you home after your treatment.
- Turn your urine a reddish-orange color. This may also occur with other body fluids. This effect will go away when the drug leaves your system after each infusion.
- Cause painful, red, and swollen
sores in your mouth. Let your doctor know right away if you have these
symptoms. They are symptoms of a condition called stomatitis. Your doctor may
suggest that you:
- Avoid hot, spicy, or acidic foods
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Use a prescription mouthwash to help treat these mouth sores
liposomal-doxorubicin May Interact with Other Medications
Doxorubicin liposome can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs, or vitamins you’re taking.
Avoid drinking grapefruit juice and eating grapefruit on the days you receive your infusion of doxorubicin liposome. Also avoid grapefruit for 2–3 days after each infusion. Grapefruit can cause you to have too much doxorubicin liposome in your body. This raises your risk of side effects.
How to Take liposomal-doxorubicin (Dosage)
Your doctor will determine a dosage that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dosage. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your healthcare provider administers the drug to you.
This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.
If you don’t receive this drug at all
Your cancer will be untreated and may get worse.
If you miss doses or don’t receive the drug on schedule
Your doctor may adjust your schedule by delaying treatment. This decision may depend on how your body responds to the medication and the results of certain lab tests. However, delaying treatment for any other reason may cause your cancer to get worse. Be sure to keep all infusion appointments as directed by your doctor.
What to do if you miss a dose
Call your doctor right away to find out what to do and how to reschedule your appointment.
How to tell if the drug is working
Your doctor will review the results of your lab tests. These will show how well this drug is working to treat your cancer.
This drug is used for short-term treatment.
- Doxil - doxorubicin hydrochloride injection, suspension, liposomal. (2015, February). Retrieved from: http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=21d9c619-7e94-49e2-ac41-31e9ea96554a.
Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group
Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on January 29, 2016