What is Idarubicin and what it is used for?
- Idarubicin is classified as an anthracyline anticancer antibiotic. This drug inhibits DNA synthesis by producing DNA cross-links which halt cell replication and eventually causing cell death. This cell damage slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Idarubicin is used in combination with other medicines to treat acute myeloid leukemia(AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia(ALL) and chronic myeloid leukemia(CML).
How Idarubicin is given?
- Idarubicin is given as an infusion into a vein over several minutes.
What should I know while receiving Idarubicin?
- If idarubicin leaks into the skin, it can cause severe tissue damage and blistering. Tell your nurse right away if you notice swelling, pain, or redness at the injection site during an infusion.
- Your urine will turn a reddish-orangecolor after the drug is given. This is because the drug is red and may last for one or two days.
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 6 months after the treatment ends.
- Idarubicin may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- You will have regular blood tests and a heart function test to make sure you have enough blood cells and have adequate organ functions to receive idarubicin. The timing and dosing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or side effects.
- There are many drugs may affect how idarubicin works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of idarubicin. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially heart diseases, liver or kidney problems.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Mouth sores
Your doctor can give you medicines that help you ease the discomfort. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
- Hair loss
It may begin 2-3 weeks after your first treatment. Your hair will usually grow back after treatment has finished.
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve diarrhea.
Less common side effects
- Low red blood cell count
You may look pale and get tired more easily. Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty breathing or dizziness when changing positions.
- Low platelet count
You may have a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor know if you find red or purple dots on the skin, bleeding from the nose or gums, or any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain.
- Skin problems
Symptoms include darkening of the skin, itching, and rash. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have. Your doctor can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
- Nail changes
The color or shape of nails may change and the nails may also become brittle or crack. The nails usually grow back slowly once the treatment is over.
- Changes in liver function
This is usually mild and may return to normal after treatment has ended. Seek medical help right away if you have yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark or brown urine, or pain in abdomen.
- Changes in heart function
This drug may affect heart function, including without symptoms, such as reduced heart function, and with symptoms, such as congestive heart failure. Contact a doctor right away if you notice that you have swelling in the legs, an abnormal heartbeat or pain or tightness in your chest.
Rare but serious side effects
- Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS)
TLS is a life-threatening condition that happens when the large amount of cancer cells die too quickly and their wastes release into the blood stream. Symptoms of TLS include general fatigue, muscle cramps, abnormal heartbeat, decreased urination, throwing up, or confusion. Your doctor will monitor you closely and prescribe medicines to prevent its development.
- Secondary cancer
Idarubicin may cause an increased risk of developing secondary cancer years later. Treatment benefits may outweigh the risk of secondary cancer. Your doctor can talk you about this.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarettes during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking beverages containing grapefruit. This is because grapefruits can affect how idarubicin works and can worsen the side effects.