Like some other chemotherapy medicines, epirubicin can affect your ability to have children. You may not be able to father a child or become pregnant if you take epirubicin, so discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment. Women treated with epirubicin may stop menstruating or start menopause early.
Epirubicin also can cause birth defects. Don't take this medicine if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are being treated. Discuss birth control with your doctor if you are able to become pregnant and are planning treatment with epirubicin.
Women who are taking epirubicin should not breast-feed.
Side effects are common with epirubicin. Because epirubicin works on most rapidly dividing cells, some healthy parts of your body will be affected by this medicine. This can cause side effects ranging from mild to serious. Side effects may include:
- Red or orange urine for a few days after treatment. This is normal as your body gets rid of the epirubicin, which is a red-orange liquid.
- Hair loss. Hair usually starts to grow back 2 or 3 months after treatment when epirubicin is completed, though it may be a different color or texture.
- Anemia. Epirubicin may lower white blood cell counts, red blood cell counts, and platelet counts, which can cause fatigue and an increased risk of infection.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth sores.
- Damage to the heart muscle, in rare cases.
Call your doctor if you have:
- Evidence of infection.
- Symptoms of heart problems, such as shortness of breath, swelling in the ankles, and fluid retention.
- Pain where you were injected with epirubicin.
Tell your doctor immediately if you feel a stinging or burning sensation while getting an injection of epirubicin. If this medicine leaks into the tissue surrounding the vein where it is injected, the tissue can be damaged.
In rare cases, people who have used epirubicin may develop leukemia up to 5 years after treatment. The chances of having heart muscle damage and leukemia appear to be related to the dose of epirubicin used and how long the treatment lasts.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: August 11, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology