Side Effects of Epirubicin
Common side effects of epirubicin that were seen in clinical studies include nausea and vomiting, absence of menstrual period, anemia, and hair loss. There are also a number of epirubicin side effects that occur less frequently but are more serious and should be reported to a healthcare provider right away, such as severe mouth sores, congestive heart failure, and blood in the stool.
As with any medicine, side effects are possible with epirubicin hydrochloride (Ellence®); however, not everyone who takes the medication will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate epirubicin quite well. If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or can easily be treated by you or your healthcare provider.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with epirubicin. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of epirubicin side effects with you.)
Epirubicin has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials, in which a group of people taking the drug have side effects documented. In these studies, the most common side effects of epirubicin (when used in combination with other chemotherapy medications) included:
- Hair loss -- in up to 95.5 percent of people (see Epirubicin and Hair Loss)
- Nausea and vomiting -- up to 92.4 percent (see Chemotherapy and Nausea)
- Leukopenia (low levels of certain white blood cells called leukocytes) -- up to 80.3 percent.
- Neutropenia (low levels of a different type of white blood cells called neutrophils) -- up to 80.3 percent
- Anemia -- up to 72.2 percent (see Chemotherapy and Anemia)
- Absence of menstrual period (amenorrhea) -- up to 71.8 percent
- Sores in the mouth or other parts of the digestive tract -- up to 58.5 percent (see Mouth and Gum Problems During Chemotherapy).
Epirubicin often causes discoloration of the urine, which may look like blood in your urine. However, this is normal and is not dangerous.
Other common epirubicin side effects, occurring in 2 to 50 percent of people, included:
- Low platelet levels in the blood (see Blood Clotting Problems and Chemotherapy)
- Hot flashes
- Lethargy (see Chemotherapy and Fatigue)
- Diarrhea (see Chemotherapy-Induced Diarrhea)
- Appetite loss
- Eye irritation or problems
- Skin changes.