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Epirubicin

Generic Name: Epirubicin (ep i ROO bi sin)
Brand Name: Ellence

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 10, 2019.

Warning

  • This medicine may cause severe heart problems like heart failure. This can happen during treatment or years after your last dose. Sometimes, these problems will not go away or may be deadly. The chance may be higher if you have ever had heart problems or chest area radiation, or are using other drugs that may cause heart problems. The chance may be higher if you have ever had epirubicin or other drugs like this one. Ask your doctor if you are not sure if any of your drugs may cause heart problems. The chance of heart problems depends on the dose of this drug and your health problem. In children, the chance of heart problems later in life is higher. Heart problems may happen even without any risk factors. Call your doctor right away if you have cough, fast or slow heartbeat, abnormal heartbeat, swelling in the arms or legs, shortness of breath, sudden weight gain, or feel very tired or weak.
  • This medicine may lower the ability of your bone marrow to make blood cells that your body needs. This can lead to needing a blood transfusion and very bad and sometimes deadly bleeding problems or infections. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat; any bruising or bleeding; or if you feel very tired or weak.
  • Rarely, a bone marrow problem called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) has happened in patients treated with epirubicin. A type of leukemia has also rarely happened. If you have questions, talk with the doctor.
  • This medicine may cause tissue damage if the drug leaks from the vein. Tell your nurse if you have any redness, burning, pain, swelling, blisters, skin sores, or leaking of fluid where the drug is going into your body.

Uses of Epirubicin:

  • It is used to treat breast cancer.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Epirubicin?

  • If you have an allergy to epirubicin or any other part of epirubicin.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Low white blood cell count, low platelet count, or low red blood cell count.
  • If you have any of these health problems: A heartbeat that is not normal, heart disease, or liver disease.
  • If you have had a recent heart attack.
  • If you are taking cimetidine.
  • If you have had daunorubicin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, or mitoxantrone before, talk with your doctor.
  • If you are pregnant or may be pregnant. Do not take epirubicin if you are in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take epirubicin and for 1 week after your last dose.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with epirubicin.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take epirubicin with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Epirubicin?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take epirubicin. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte problems can happen in people who have diarrhea. Talk with the doctor about what to do to prevent dehydration and electrolyte problems.
  • To help with mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush or cotton swabs and rinse the mouth. Do not use mouth rinses that have alcohol in them.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • You will need to have heart function tests while taking epirubicin. Talk with the doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use of some vaccines with epirubicin may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
  • Blood clots have happened with epirubicin. Sometimes, these blood clots have been deadly. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you have had or will be having radiation treatment, talk with your doctor. Worse side effects from radiation treatment have happened with epirubicin.
  • If you are 70 years or older, use epirubicin with care. You could have more side effects.
  • This medicine may affect fertility. Fertility problems may lead to not being able to get pregnant or father a child. In both men and women, this may go back to normal but sometimes it may not. Talk with your doctor.
  • Periods may stop in women treated with epirubicin. This may not go back to normal. Women treated with epirubicin may go through menopause at a younger age than normal. Talk with your doctor.
  • This medicine may cause harm to an unborn baby. A pregnancy test will be done before you start epirubicin to show that you are NOT pregnant.
  • Women must use birth control while taking epirubicin and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use birth control. If you get pregnant, call your doctor right away.
  • Men with a partner who may get pregnant must use birth control while taking epirubicin and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use birth control. If your partner gets pregnant, call the doctor right away.
  • If you are having sex and your partner is pregnant, use a condom during care and for 1 week after care ends.

How is this medicine (Epirubicin) best taken?

Use epirubicin as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
  • Dizziness or passing out.
  • Patients with cancer who take epirubicin may be at a greater risk of getting a severe health problem called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS).This may lead to death. Call your doctor right away if you have a fast or abnormal heartbeat; any passing out; trouble passing urine; muscle weakness or cramps; upset stomach, throwing up, diarrhea, or not able to eat; or feel sluggish.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have signs of a blood clot like chest pain or pressure; coughing up blood; shortness of breath; swelling, warmth, numbness, change of color, or pain in a leg or arm; or trouble speaking or swallowing.

What are some other side effects of Epirubicin?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Hair loss.
  • Color of urine is orange or red for 1 to 2 days after getting epirubicin.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Mouth irritation or mouth sores.
  • Eye irritation.
  • Diarrhea, throwing up, upset stomach, and feeling less hungry are common with epirubicin. If these happen, talk with your doctor about ways to lower these side effects. Call your doctor right away if any of these effects bother you, do not get better, or get very bad.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Epirubicin?

  • If you need to store epirubicin at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about epirubicin, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Further information

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

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