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Idarubicin (eye-da-RUE-bi-sin) belongs to the general group of medicines known as antineoplastics. It is used to treat some kinds of cancer, including leukemia.
Idarubicin seems to interfere with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by idarubicin, 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 for months or years after the medicine is used.
Before you begin treatment with idarubicin, you and your doctor should talk about the good this medicine will do as well as the risks of using it.
Idarubicin 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 idarubicin, the following should be considered:
Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to idarubicin.
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 during pregnancy. Studies in rats and rabbits have shown that idarubicin 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 only in male dogs with this medicine, the possibility of an effect in human males should be kept in mind.
Be sure that you have discussed these possible effects with your doctor before receiving this medicine. It is best to use some kind of birth control while you are receiving idarubicin. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while receiving idarubicin. Before receiving idarubicin make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant.
Breast-feeding—Because idarubicin may cause serious side effects, breast-feeding is generally not recommended while you are receiving it.
Children—There is no specific information comparing use of idarubicin in children with use in other age groups.
Older adults—Heart problems are more likely to occur in the elderly, who are usually more sensitive to the effects of idarubicin.
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 you are receiving idarubicin, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you have ever been treated with x-rays or cancer medicines or if you are taking any of the following:
Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of idarubicin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
Proper Use of This Medicine
Idarubicin 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 receiving 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.
Idarubicin often causes nausea and vomiting. However, it is very important that you continue to receive it, even if you begin to feel ill. Ask your health care professional for ways to lessen these effects.
Dosing—The dose of idarubicin 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 size, and whether or not other medicines are also being taken. If you are receiving idarubicin at home, follow your doctor"s orders or the directions on the label . If you have any questions about the proper dose of idarubicin, 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 idarubicin, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccinations) without your doctor"s approval . Idarubicin 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. 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.
Idarubicin 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 idarubicin accidentally seeps out of the vein into which it is injected, it may damage some tissues and cause scarring. Tell the health care professional 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 cancer 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. Discuss these possible effects with your doctor.
Check with your health care professional immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Black, tarry stools; blood in urine or stools; cough or hoarseness; fever or chills; lower back or side pain; painful or difficult urination; pinpoint red spots on skin; unusual bleeding or bruising
Fast or irregular heartbeat; pain at place of injection; shortness of breath; swelling of feet and lower legs
Stomach pain (severe)
Check with your health care professional as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
Sores in mouth and on lips
Skin rash or hives
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:
Diarrhea or stomach cramps; headache; nausea and vomiting
Darkening or redness of skin (after x-ray treatment); numbness or tingling of fingers, toes, or face
Idarubicin causes the urine to turn reddish in color, which may stain clothes. This is not blood. It is perfectly normal and lasts for only a day or two after each dose is given.
This medicine often causes a temporary and total loss of hair. After treatment with idarubicin has ended, normal hair growth should return.
After you stop receiving idarubicin, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your health care professional immediately if you notice any of the following side effects:
Fast or irregular heartbeat; shortness of breath; swelling of feet and lower legs
Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your health care professional.
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Typical mistypes for Idarubicin
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