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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Adriamycin


These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Adriamycin (drug used in chemotherapy)
Question: Please send me any information on this drug. It was used in my breast cancer treatment. I would like to know all of it's side effects and how long they are active in the body after treatment. I also had another drug used at the time of treatment, which was Cyctophosphamide. I read an article on the web and it stated that adriamycin is not forgiving and one can have later reactions to it. Any information on this drug would be very helpful to me.

Answer: Adriamycin is usually used as a chemotherapeutic agent in treating different cancers. It comes from a class of drugs called anthracycline antibiotics and is from the fungus Strep. Peucetius variety caesius. These drugs have similar structure to tetracycline and interfere with DNA production by the cell. As such, rapidly producing cells are damaged (although all cells can be effected). Toxicities are several: first is the suppression of bone marrow, causing low white counts and platelet counts. Second is GI toxicity, sore mouth, diarrhea, etc. Third is cardiomyopathy. These drugs have a fairly unique toxicity in damaging the heart muscle and this is often a permanent problem and appears dose related. I suspect the cardiotoxicity is the long term damage you refer to, but since DNA is damaged by this drug, other cancers can be produced many years later.

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