Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding.
Fertility: Doxorubicin can cause changes to sperm in men and may cause ovulation to stop during treatment in women. Both men and women appear to regain fertility after doxorubicin treatment is complete. Women and men receiving doxorubicin should use effective contraceptive methods.
Heart problems: This medication increases the risk of heart problems such as abnormal heart rhythm, congestive heart failure, and a weakened heart (cardiomyopathy). Some of these problems occur early in treatment, while others occur later in treatment. People with existing heart disease, those who have had radiotherapy, people who have been treated with this medication in the past, and people who are taking certain medications that act on the heart are more at risk of theses problems. Your doctor will monitor you closely for these problems.
Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, doxorubicin can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections. Tell your doctor if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do regular blood tests to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.
Liver function: People with impaired liver function may require lower doses of this medication. This medication should not be used by people who have severe liver impairment. If you have reduced liver function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Secondary leukemia: There is some evidence to suggest that people who receive treatment with doxorubicin are at slightly increased risk of developing leukemia. This risk is increased when doxorubicin is given along with other anticancer medications or with radiotherapy. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking doxorubicin, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: Children who receive doxorubicin are at an increased risk of developing leukemia. Children may also be more susceptible to effects of this medication on the heart.