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Generic name: doxorubicinDOX-oh-ROO-bi-sin ]
Drug class: Antibiotics / antineoplastics

Medically reviewed by on Mar 14, 2024. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is Adriamycin?

Adriamycin is used to treat different types of cancers that affect the breast, bladder, kidneys, ovaries, thyroid, stomach, lungs, bones, nerve tissues, joints, and soft tissues. This medicine is also used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and certain types of leukemia.

Adriamycin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Adriamycin 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.

Some side effects may occur during the injection. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, sweaty, or have a headache, chest tightness, back pain, trouble breathing, or swelling in your face.

Adriamycin may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Adriamycin may cause your urine to turn a reddish-orange color. This side effect is usually not harmful.

Common side effects of Adriamycin may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


You should not use Adriamycin if you have severe liver disease, severe heart problems, very low blood cell counts caused by prior chemotherapy, or if you recently had a heart attack.

Adriamycin can weaken your immune system. Your blood may need to be tested often. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches).

Adriamycin may cause dangerous effects on your heart. Call your doctor at once if you feel very weak or tired, or have fast heartbeats, shortness of breath (even with mild exertion), or swelling in your ankles or feet.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to Adriamycin or similar medications (this medicine, daunorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, mitoxantrone), or if you have:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Tell your doctor about all other cancer medicines or radiation treatments you have received in the past.

Using Adriamycin may increase your risk of developing a bone marrow disease or other types of leukemia later in life. Ask your doctor about your specific risk.

You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment.

Both men and women using this medicine should use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Adriamycin can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects if the mother or father is using this medicine.

Keep using birth control for at least 6 months after your last dose. Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using Adriamycin.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because Adriamycin can harm an unborn baby.

Adriamycin may also cause early menopause, depending on your age when you receive this medicine. Ask your doctor about this risk.

You should not breastfeed while you are using Adriamycin.

How is Adriamycin given?

Adriamycin is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

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

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

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

Adriamycin can lower your blood cell counts. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Adriamycin.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while taking Adriamycin?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

What other drugs will affect Adriamycin?

Many drugs can affect Adriamycin. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Popular FAQ

The chemotherapy (“chemo”) drug “The Red Devil” is doxorubicin (Adriamycin), an intravenous injection with a clear, bright red color used to treat various cancers. It may cause your urine or other body fluids to turn a reddish-orange color for 1 to 2 days after a dose is given, which is normal and temporary. Doxorubicin can also cause harsh side effects such as heart toxicity (heart failure), secondary cancers, severe vomiting and total hair loss (alopecia). Continue reading

Doxorubicin is considered one of the strongest chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer ever invented. It can kill cancer cells at every point in their life cycle, and it's used to treat a wide variety of cancers, not just breast cancer. Doxorubicin is also known as “The Red Devil” because it is a clear bright red color. It can cause your urine or other body fluids to turn a reddish color for 1 to 2 days after a dose is given, which is normal and temporary. Continue reading

Lartruvo (olaratumab) is given as an intravenous infusion on Days 1 and 8 of each 21-day cycle until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Lartruvo injection is used in combination with doxorubicin for the treatment of adult patients with soft tissue sarcoma (STS) who cannot be cured with radiation or surgery. Continue reading

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Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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