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What is Dexrazoxane?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dexrazoxane is a drug available to reduce the risks of certain side effects in patients undergoing chemotherapy. This medication is among a class of drugs known as cytoprotective or chemoprotective agents, a reference to the fact that they prevent damage to healthy cells when patients take toxic chemotherapy medications to treat cancer. This drug can be prescribed to prevent heart damage in patients taking multiple cycles of doxorubicin, and also in cases where anthracycline chemotherapy leaks under the skin, exposing patients to the risk of skin and tissue damage.

Known by brand names like Totect® and Zinecard®, the mechanism of action for dexrazoxane is not fully understood. Numerous clinical trials show the medication has a chemoprotective function and it may interact with cells in a number of different ways. This medication comes in the form of an injectable solution, and a doctor will determine the dosage schedule on the basis of the patient's situation. Usually, a nurse or doctor gives the injection to make sure it is done correctly.

When a patient is receiving doxorubicin therapy in a repeat treatment, rather than for the first time, a doctor can prescribe dexrazoxane to protect the patient's heart. If it does not completely prevent damage, it can reduce overall damage and limit the chances of future complications caused by heart injuries. The medication schedule depends on how often the chemotherapy sessions will take place, and the medication is part of the patient's overall drug protocol.

Patients receiving anthracyclines may experience complications if the needle shifts and the drug leaks out of the blood vessel and into the surrounding tissue and skin. In these situations, dexrazoxane is available to limit the damage. A nurse will give several injections to provide as much protection as possible. Usually, the patient's doctor will also want to examine the patient to identify any complications such as tissue death, so additional treatments can be given if necessary.

This medication can cause stomach pain, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Patients who experience severe, persistent side effects may want to discuss them with a doctor to determine if they are indicative of complications or other problems. Patients with a previous history of bad reactions to dexrazoxane or other chemoprotective agents should make sure to discuss this with a doctor when developing a chemotherapy regimen. It may be necessary to try other medications or consider changing chemotherapy drugs to avoid complications.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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