What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking doxorubicin if you have:
- Congestive heart failure (CHF), an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), or other heart problems
- A history of low levels of white blood cells in the blood
- Any infection
- Liver disease, including liver failure or cirrhosis
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Doxorubicin and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Doxorubicin and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Doxorubicin to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
How Does Doxorubicin Work?Doxorubicin is part of a group of medications called anthracyclines. Anthracyclines kill cells (including cancer cells and normal cells) by working in several ways. Doxorubicin binds to DNA in cells, changing the shape of the DNA and causing other problems with it. The medication can damage the membranes (outer coating) of cells and may damage other parts of cells as well.
While doxorubicin can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by the medication.