Breast Cancer Home > Adriamycin

Adriamycin is licensed for the treatment of different cancers, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer. The medication works by binding to DNA in cells, altering the shape of the DNA and killing the cells. While Adriamycin can kill healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cancerous cells because they multiply more rapidly. Side effects include hair loss, nausea, and weight gain.

What Is Adriamycin?

Adriamycin® (doxorubicin hydrochloride) is a prescription medication used to treat various types of cancer. This includes breast cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer, to name a few. It is part of a group of chemotherapy medications called anthracyclines.
 
(Click Adriamycin Uses for more information on what the drug is used for, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes It?

Adriamycin is currently made by Bedford Laboratories.
 

How Does Adriamycin Work?

Adriamycin is part of a group of medications called anthracyclines. Anthracyclines kill cells (including cancer cells and normal cells) by working in several ways. Adriamycin binds to DNA in cells, changing the shape of the DNA and causing other problems. The medication can damage the membranes (outer coating) of cells and may damage other parts of cells as well.
 
While Adriamycin can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by the medication.
 

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations for when and how to take Adriamycin include the following:
 
  • The medication is administered intravenously (through an IV).
     
  • Most people receive their injection at their healthcare provider's office, a hospital, or at an "infusion center."
     
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Adriamycin will not work as well if you stop taking it before your healthcare provider recommends.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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