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Epirubicin (ep-ee-ROO-bi-sin ) belongs to the general group of medicines known as antineoplastics. It is used to treat some kinds of cancers of the breast; lung; lymph system; stomach; and ovaries. It may also be used to treat other kinds of cancer, as determined by your doctor.
Epirubicin seems to interfere with the growth of cancer cells, which are then eventually destroyed by the body. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by epirubicin, other effects will also occur. Some of these may be serious and must be reported to your doctor. Other effects, like hair loss, may not be serious but may cause concern. Some effects may not occur until months or years after the medicine is used.
Before you begin treatment with epirubicin, you and your doctor should talk about the good this medicine will do as well as the risks of using it.
Epirubicin is to be administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor. It is available in the following dosage form:
Before Using This Medicine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For epirubicin, the following should be considered:
Allergies- Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to daunorubicin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin, or mitoxantrone.
Pregnancy- There is a chance that this medicine may cause birth defects if either the male or female is receiving it at the time of conception or if it is taken by the mother during pregnancy. Studies in rats and rabbits have shown that epirubicin causes birth defects in the fetus and other problems (including miscarriage). In addition, many cancer medicines may cause sterility, which could be permanent. Although sterility has been reported in animals and humans with this medicine, this is less likely to occur in humans than in animals.
Be sure that you have discussed these possible effects with your doctor before receiving this medicine. Before receiving epirubicin make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant. It is best to use some kind of birth control while you are receiving epirubicin. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while receiving epirubicin.
Breast-feeding- It is not known whether epirubicin passes into breast milk. However, epirubicin is not recommended during breast-feeding, because it may cause unwanted effects in nursing babies.
Children- Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of epirubicin in children with use in other age groups. Heart problems are more likely to occur in children younger than 2 years of age.
Older adults- Heart problems are more likely to occur in the elderly, who may have existing heart disease. The elderly may also be more likely to have blood problems. Also, elderly patients may not be able to metabolize the medication as quickly as younger patients, which may put them at risk for added toxicity.
Other medicines- Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When receiving epirubicin it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are taking any of the following:
Other medical problems- The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of epirubicin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
Proper Use of This Medicine
Epirubicin is sometimes given together with certain other medicines. If you are receiving a combination of medicines, it is important that you receive each one at the proper time. If you are taking some of these medicines by mouth, ask your health care professional to help you plan a way to take them at the right times.
While you are using this medicine, your doctor may want you to drink extra fluids so that you will pass more urine. This will help prevent kidney problems and keep your kidneys working well.
Epirubicin often causes nausea and vomiting. However, it is very important that you continue to receive the medication, even if you begin to feel ill. Ask your health care professional for ways to lessen these effects.
The dose of epirubicin will be different for different patients. The dose that is used may depend on a number of things, including what the medicine is being used for, the patient's body size, and whether or not other medicines are also being taken. If you are taking or receiving epirubicin at home, follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. If you have any questions about the proper dose of epirubicin, ask your doctor.
Precautions While Using This Medicine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
While you are being treated with epirubicin, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccinations) without your doctor's approval . Epirubicin may lower your body's resistance, and there is a chance you might get the infection the immunization is meant to prevent. In addition, other persons living in your household should not take oral polio vaccine, since there is a chance they could pass the polio virus on to you. Also, avoid persons who have taken oral polio vaccine within the last several months. Do not get close to them, and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you cannot take these precautions, you should consider wearing a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Epirubicin can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
If epirubicin accidentally leaks out of the vein into which it is injected, it may damage some tissues and cause scarring. Tell the doctor or nurse right away if you notice redness, pain, or swelling at the place of injection .
Side Effects of This Medicine
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Also, because of the way these medicines act on the body, there is a chance that they might cause other unwanted effects that may not occur until months or years after the medicine is used. These delayed effects may include certain types of cancer, such as leukemia. Discuss these possible effects with your doctor.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Epirubicin causes the urine to turn reddish in color, which may stain clothes. This is not blood. It is to be expected and only lasts for 1 or 2 days after each dose is given.
This medicine often causes a temporary and total loss of hair. After treatment with epirubicin has ended, normal hair growth should return.
After you stop receiving epirubicin, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your doctor or nurse immediately if you notice any of the following side effects:
Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.
Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in the product labeling, epirubicin is used in certain patients with the following medical condition:
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT