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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Adriamycin
Adriamycin (drug used in chemotherapy)
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.