Epirubicin: Uses & Sides Effects

Epirubicin is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. Epirubicin is used to treat breast cancer.

How is epirubicin given?

Epirubicin is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Epirubicin is usually given together with other cancer medications. You may be given other medications to prevent nausea, vomiting, or infections.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when epirubicin is injected.

If any of this medication accidentally gets on your skin, wash it thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Epirubicin can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

Precautions

Before you are treated with epirubicin, tell your doctor about all other cancer medications and treatments you have received, including radiation.

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to epirubicin or similar medications (Cerubidine, Adriamycin, Idamycin, Novantrone), or if you have:

  • an untreated or uncontrolled infection (including mouth sores);
  • severe liver disease;
  • severe heart problems;
  • if you have recently had a heart attack.

To make sure epirubicin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • bone marrow suppression;
  • heart disease;
  • if you have been treated before with doxorubicin, daunorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, or mitoxantrone.

Using epirubicin may increase your risk of developing other types of cancer, such as leukemia. Talk with your doctor about your specific risk.

Do not use epirubicin if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

Use birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are receiving epirubicin, whether you are a man or a woman. Epirubicin use by either parent may cause birth defects.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers at once if you have:

  • feeling short of breath, even with mild exertion;
  • swelling, rapid weight gain (especially in your face and midsection);
  • irritation or skin changes where the injection was given;
  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • fast, slow, or uneven heartbeats;
  • anxiety, sweating, severe shortness of breath, wheezing, gasping for breath;
  • chest pain, sudden cough, cough with foamy mucus, rapid breathing, coughing up blood;
  • lower back pain, blood in your urine, little or no urinating;
  • numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth, weak pulse, overactive reflexes, confusion, fainting;
  • muscle weakness, tightness, or contraction;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;
  • pale skin, easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin.

Common side effects may include:

  • hot flashes, missed menstrual periods;
  • temporary hair loss;
  • feeling weak or tired;
  • mild nausea, diarrhea;
  • eye redness, puffy eyelids.

Interactions

Many drugs can interact with epirubicin. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your medications and any you start or stop using during treatment with epirubicin, especially:

  • acetaminophen (Tylenol);
  • auranofin or gold injections to treat arthritis;
  • cimetidine;
  • rosiglitazone;
  • an antibiotic or antifungal medication;
  • an antidepressant–amitriptyline, doxepin, clomipramine, desipramine, imipramine, nortriptyline;
  • birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy;
  • cholesterol medications–atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin;
  • heart or blood pressure medicine–amlodipine, atenolol, carvedilol, digoxin, diltiazem, enalapril, labetalol, lisinopril, methyldopa, nifedipine, verapamil, and others;
  • HIV/AIDS medications;
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), celecoxib, diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam, and others;
  • other cancer medications, especially docetaxel or paclitaxel;
  • seizure medications–carbamazepine, divalproex, phenobarbital, phenytoin, valproic acid, and others.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Keyword: epirubicin.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.