Doxorubicin (Doxil)

The basics

Doxorubicin (brand name – Doxil) is an FDA-approved treatment for ovarian cancer that has not improved or that has worsened after treatment with other medications. It is also useful to treat Kaposi’s sarcoma (a type of cancer that causes abnormal tissue to grow on different parts of the body) related to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and multiple myeloma (a type of cancer of the bone marrow).

Doxorubicin lipid complex falls in anthracyclines class of medications. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body.

Let us walk you through the key things you need to know about doxorubicin.

Make sure you read IMPORTANT WARNING section at the end of this article.

How should I take doxorubicin (Doxil)?

Patient getting IV chemotherapy

Doxorubicin lipid complex comes as a liquid to be injected intravenously (into a vein) over 1 hour by a doctor or nurse in a medical facility.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.

Do not stop taking doxorubicin without talking to your doctor. You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.

What are the side effects of doxorubicin?

Common side effects

Serious side effects

  • tingling, burning, redness, swelling, peeling or flaking, blisters, or sores on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • pain, itching, redness, swelling, blisters, or sores at the injection site

Doxorubicin lipid complex may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Use the free Ankr platform or Ankr app to track your symptoms.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before receiving doxorubicin (Doxil)

  • tell your doctor about your allergies
  • tell your doctor about other intakes
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any other disease, symptom, or treatment
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You should not become pregnant or breast-feed while you are receiving doxorubicin lipid complex.

While you are on doxorubicin (Doxil)

  • If you become pregnant while receiving doxorubicin lipid complex, call your doctor. Doxorubicin lipid complex may harm the fetus.
  • tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed during your treatment

In case of an emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Brand names

  • Doxil®

Last Revised -06/11/2023, FDA updated – 07/19/2022, SG

[ref: 07/19/2022]

Doxorubicin lipid complex may cause serious or life-threatening heart problems at any time during your treatment or months to years after your treatment has ended. Your doctor will order tests before and during your treatment to see if your heart is working well enough for you to safely receive doxorubicin lipid complex These tests may include an electrocardiogram (ECG; test that records the electrical activity of the heart) and an echocardiogram (test that uses sound waves to measure your heart’s ability to pump blood). Your doctor may tell you that you should not receive this medication if the tests show your heart’s ability to pump blood has decreased.

Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any type of heart disease or radiation (x-ray) therapy to the chest area. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or have ever received certain cancer chemotherapy medications such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), daunorubicin (Cerubidine, DaunoXome), epirubicin (Ellence), idarubicin (Idamycin), mitoxantrone (Novantrone), paclitaxel (Abraxane, Onxol), trastuzumab (Herceptin), or verapamil (Calan, Isoptin). If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: shortness of breath; difficulty breathing; swelling of the hands, feet, ankles or lower legs; or fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat.

Side effects

You may experience a serious allergic reaction while you receive a dose of doxorubicin lipid complex injection. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you experience any of these symptoms while you receive doxorubicin lipid complex: hives; rash; itching; swelling of the face, eyes, mouth, throat, tongue, or lips; flushing; fever; chills; back pain; headache; difficulty breathing or swallowing; shortness of breath; or chest tightness.

Doxorubicin can cause a severe decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow. Your doctor will order laboratory tests regularly before and during your treatment. A decrease in the number of blood cells in your body may cause certain symptoms and may increase the risk that you will develop a serious infection or bleeding. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or have received azathioprine (Imuran), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), or progesterone (Provera, Depo-Provera). If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: fever, sore throat, ongoing cough and congestion, or other signs of infection; unusual bleeding or bruising; bloody or black, tarry stools; bloody vomit; or vomiting blood or brown material that resembles coffee grounds.

Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had liver disease. Your doctor may need to change your dose if you have liver disease.

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DISCLAIMER: No part of this content constitutes medical advice, opinion, or should be used for medical decision making without consultation with a licenced medical practitioner and under a patient-provider relationship. All information on the website is provided without any claims of accuracy. For full terms and conditions, visit this link. Content curated by the Ankr team.

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