What is red devil chemo and what are the side effects?

Mcp asked...

What is the red chemo that is administered by a large needle over a 15 minute time span and what are the side effects?

Expert Answer

Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, who is responsible for Caring.com's coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions.

Adriamycin, aka the "Red Devil," is a chemotherapy agent used to treat many kinds of cancer, including breast, lung, ovarian, and bladder cancer.  It's also often called Doxorubicin, which is the generic name. Adriamycin is a brand name.

Adriamycin/Doxorubicin is often used as part of combination chemotherapy regimens; for example, when treating breast cancer it's often part of a three--part regimen known as ACT, which stands for Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol.

Adriamycin's profile of side effects include low white blood cell count, low red blood cell count, low platelets, hair loss, and mouth sores. Read our articles on all these side effects for practical suggestions on how to cope with them. In addition, Adriamycin can cause some unusual side effects such as changes to the finger- and toenails and discolored urine. Recently, Adriamycin has come under fire because studies show it can have a toxic effect on the heart muscle, leading to heart failure.

For this reason, patients being treated with Adriamycin often have a MUGA scan to make sure the heart is working properly.