Daunorubicin is a prescription-only drug that is used to treat various forms of cancer and comes with a variety of side effects you should be aware of.


Daunorubicin is a prescription drug that is used to treat some forms of cancer, and it is known as an antineoplastic medicine. Daunorubicin works by interfering with the way in which cancer cells grow. Eventually, it kills such cells, so can be effective in getting rid of certain amounts of cancerous cells.

However, due to the nature of Daunorubicin, it can cause a number of unwanted side effects, such as hair loss. It also leads to the death of other healthy cells alongside cancerous ones, some of the effects may not occur until a few months or years after you have finished taking the medicine.

As such, Daunorubicin is only prescribed after a full consultation with your doctor in which they can take you through any of the potential risks associated with it. It will only ever be administered by your doctor, you should not attempt to access it or self-prescribe the drug.

Condition(s) treated

  • Cancer

Type of medicine

  • Solution
  • Powder for solution

Side effects

Like most drugs, Daunorubicin can cause a variety of different possible side effects to occur. Some such side effects may not appear for months or years after taking the drug, and some people may experience few side effects at all. It is important you can recognize serious side effects from less serious ones, so directly below is a list of effects which, if you experience any at all, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Less common

  • Swelling of lower legs and feet
  • Chills or a fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hoarseness or a cough
  • Pain at injection point
  • Shortness of breath
  • Side or lower back pain
  • Difficult or painful urination


  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Blood in stools or urine
  • Tarry, black stools
  • Red pinpoint spots on skin
  • Itching or skin rash

More common

  • Sores on lips and in mouth

Less common

  • Painful joints

As mentioned, some side effects may not require you to seek immediate medical assistance. If you experience any of the below, then they may be expected and will likely pass as your treatment continues. However, if they are worrying you at all, and you would like to find out some ways to limit these effects, then do contact your doctor for advice.

More common

  • Vomiting and nausea

Less common or rare

  • Diarrhea
  • Redness or darkening of skin

There may be some alternate side effects which occur and are not on the list above. If they are worrying you, then again, contact your doctor for advice. Do be aware that Daunorubicin can cause a total loss of hair, but this is only temporary. Once your treatment ends, you should find that normal hair growth will continue. It may also cause your urine to become slightly reddish. This will occur for the first day or two after your dosage and is not a cause for concern. It is not blood.


Your dosage will depend upon the exact nature of your condition, and other aspects of your dietary and drug intake. Thus, your exact dosage could differ greatly from another patient's. However, you should only ever take the exact prescription as given by your doctor, and never attempt to alter your dosage. Your exact prescription will also depend on the strength of the medicine you are given, and the frequency you are required to take it.

It is likely that you will be required to take a number of other medicines alongside Daunorubicin. This means you need to be careful to take each medicine at the correct time each day. Your doctor will help clarify exactly how much of what you should be taking, and what times of the day to try and stick to taking them.

As a means to help prevent and kidney problems, your doctor may ask you to drink more fluids whilst receiving Daunorubicin. This will help you pass more urine and maintain working kidneys.

There is a chance you will feel nauseous and vomit when you take Daunorubicin. You can speak to your doctor about ways to help lessen these effects, however, it is important you continue to take it even if you are sick.


There is a chance that Daunorubicin could interact with other drugs you take. Such interactions are fairly common and in some cases necessary. However, in other cases, your doctor may try to find ways to lessen any unpleasant interactions. For this reason, you will need to give your doctor a full breakdown of all drugs you are taking. This includes prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as any supplements or herbal remedies. Below is a list of drugs with which it is usually not recommended you take alongside Daunorubicin. However, your doctor is best placed to advise you on the appropriate course of action.

  • Live Measles Virus Vaccine
  • Tasonermin
  • Live Rotavirus Vaccine
  • Varicella Virus Vaccine
  • Live Mumps Virus Vaccine
  • Live Rubella Virus Vaccine

Similarly, the below drugs are usually not recommended due to their interaction but are often required. Your doctor may need to limit the doses of one or the other.

  • Smallpox Vaccine
  • Adenovirus Vaccine
  • Typhoid Vaccine
  • Live Cholera Vaccine
  • Live Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin Vaccine
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine
  • Live Poliovirus Vaccine
  • Live Influenza Virus Vaccine
  • Dasabuvir
  • Trastuzumab

As well as other drugs, there is a chance that Daunorubicin will interact with other parts of your diet, such as what you eat, drink or smoke. You will need to give your doctor an accurate account of your diet, so they can make any necessary adjustments to avoid interactions.

Other medical problems you have could also lead to interactions with Daunorubicin. You should tell them the full extent of your past and present medical record, so they can anticipate and account for any unpleasant medical interactions. Below is a list of medical problems which are known to more commonly cause unwanted interactions.

  • Recent exposure to Chickenpox
  • Herpes zoster (shingles). Could lead to a severe disease affecting other parts of your body
  • A history of gout.
  • Kidney stones. Taking Daunorubicin could cause an increase in uric acid, in turn causing gout or kidney
  • Heart disease. Taking Daunorubicin could increase your risk of heart problems
  • Infection. Your body’s ability to fight off infections may be decreased
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease. Your body will remove Daunorubicin more slowly from, causing an increase in the effects of the drug


Your doctor will require you to tell them about any and all allergies you hold. This includes allergies to Daunorubicin, other drugs, foods, animals, preservatives, and dyes. You should be honest and clear with these, as taking Daunociribn could cause such allergies to react.

As of writing, there is no appropriate information regarding the differing effects of using Daunociribn on younger patients. Your doctor is best placed to advise whether it is suitable for your child to take.

Geriatric patients taking Daunorubicin may be at a greater risk of blood problems or heart problems from occurring. This is because they are more sensitive to the effects of Daunorubicin.

Studies performed on pregnant women taking Daunociribn have demonstrated a risk the unborn fetus. However, it may be that the drug is necessary due to the life-threatening nature of cancer. Your doctor is best placed to advise whether the benefits of taking this medication outweigh and risks.

There is a lack of sufficient studies demonstrating the effects of taking Daunorubicin on breastfeeding women. Your doctor can advise you of any risks involved.

Whilst taking this drug, your doctor will require you to meet for regular appointments. It is important you attend these as they can accurately measure your medical health and make adjustments to any drugs as necessary.

During and after your treatment taking Daunorubicin, you should not get any vaccinations without first approving them with your doctor. Due to a weakened immune system, the injections could cause you become even more ill, rather than preventing anything.

To help decrease such risks, all members of your household should receive an oral polio vaccine, to help avoid them passing this onto you. However, whilst they have just received the vaccine, you should avoid all contact with those people. If such protective measures are difficult, you will possibly need to wear a face mask covering your nose and mouth.

Whilst taking Daunociribn, your chances of getting an infection are increased as well because the number of white blood cells in your blood will be lower. As well as this, it can lead to a decrease in the number of platelets you have. These platelets are essential for proper blood clotting. Then your blood count is lower, you can take certain steps to reduce the effects of bleeding, or of getting infections. Here are some tips.

  • If you think you are getting an infection, or have lower back pain, side pain, difficult or painful urination, hoarseness or a cough, or have chills or a fever, then contact your doctor immediately.
  • Avoid any and all people who have infections.
  • You should contact your doctor straight away if you have any unusual bruising or bleeding; blood in your stools or urine; tarry black stool; or if you have red pinpoint spots on your skin.
  • When brushing your teeth, using floss, or cleaning with a toothpick, you should exercise extreme caution. Your doctor or dentist will be able to advise you on alternative steps to take to help avoid any risk of unnecessary bleeding.
  • If you are due to have any dental work done, then first check with your doctor, as it may be better to reschedule until after your treatment.
  • Unless you have just washed your hands, you should avoid touching the inside of your nose, or your eyes.
  • If you are using any other sharp objects, such as toenail cutter, fingernail cutters, or a razor, you need to be very careful. Try and avoid such sharp objects whenever possible.
  • You should not partake in any other physical activities or sports which are likely to cause bruising, bleeding, or any other injuries to occur.

If you notice any pain, redness, or swelling at the point by which you were injected, then notify your doctor. It could be that some of the Daunorubicin has accidentally seeped out of the vein. This causes some minor scarring and tissue damage, but by informing your doctor immediately you can help limit such effects.


Daunorubicin is administered by a trained medical professional in a clinical setting. You will not be required to store the drug at any time. Instead, the nurse or doctor administering the drug will know how it is properly stored prior to injection.


If used in conjunction with other cancer-fighting drugs, Daunorubicin can be a very useful drug in helping to kill off cancerous cells. However, the very nature of the drug means it can also lead to a number of uncomfortable side effects as it kills off living cells as well. You should not attempt to self-prescribe or gain access to Daunorubicin, but instead will only be given it under certain circumstances.

Before taking the medicine, your doctor will give you a full in-depth consultation to look at your physical condition. They can advise you on certain ways to hopefully avoid as many side effects as possible, as well as ways to help ensure you get the most benefit from the drug. It is vital that you stay in regular contact with your prescribing doctor throughout your course of treatment. They can advise on any necessary adjustments on your dosage, and to monitor your condition.

You should be careful to stay clear of any forms of infections or illness whilst you are taking Daunorubicin, as your immune system will be greatly weakened. If you are worried at all that you may have contracted an illness you should contact your doctor immediately. If you have any other worrying side effects as a result of taking this drug, then you should also contact your doctor. Keep an eye on your health after you stop taking Daunorubicin, as side effects can often take months, or even years to come to light.