What Is Pixantrone?

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  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Pixantrone is an antineoplastic drug, meaning that it treats cancer by attacking tumor cells and growths, known as neoplasms. This medication has shown efficacy in treating hematological cancers, that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes as well, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Unlike other medications used to treat many hematological cancers, pixantrone does not seem to cause irreversible heart damage.

Initially, this drug was developed to treat cancers that do not show a large response to other medications. Studies conducted in the United States involved providing pixantrone in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, some of whom had not seen benefits from previous treatments. Around 70 percent of those patients that had responded to other treatments saw a complete remission of their symptoms, and in those individuals that did not respond to other treatments, 35 percent experienced complete remission.

With many other cancer therapies, complete remission is relatively rare. Pixantrone tends to produce this result more often than some other drugs used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, in particular. Additionally, participants in studies involving this medication tended to report fewer severe side effects than when they were treated with another chemotherapy compound called doxorubicin.


There have been reported side effects of pixantrone, however. More than 10 percent of the individuals that have taken this medication have reported that they experienced neutropenia and leucopenia, which are both a type of decrease in white blood cells. Some of the other side effects that could occur frequently include coughing, fever, feelings of weakness, anemia, and infections. The infections that occasionally occur with this therapy are more likely a result of a reduction in white blood cells leading to a compromised immune system, rather than being a direct effect of this drug.

In treatment, the pixantrone dose used may vary based on the individual, as well as their body surface area in meters squared (m^2). Often, a dosage of this medication will be around 120 milligrams (mg) per m^2, although in some American studies, doses between 80 mg to 180 mg per m^2 have been used. Patients with more aggressive forms of cancer, as well as those that have not responded to other chemotherapy treatments, may sometimes benefit from doses on the higher end of this scale. Generally, doses that are above 180 mg per m^2 are not used, because there could be a greater risk of white blood cell decrease.



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