Doxil treats ovarian cancer and AIDS related Kaposi's Sarcoma. You may have red colored urine for 1 to 2 days after your infusion of Doxil.

Doxil Overview

Reviewed: August 2, 2013

Doxil is a prescription medication used to treat ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma. It is also used to treat AIDS related Kaposi's Sarcoma. Doxil belongs to a group of drugs called anthracylines, which slow and stop the growth of cancer cells.

This medication comes in an injectable form and is given by injection into a vein (intravenously) by a healthcare provider.

Common side effects of Doxil include hair loss, nausea, and vomiting.

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Doxil Cautionary Labels


Uses of Doxil

Doxil is a prescription medication used in combination with other medications to treat:

  • Ovarian cancer - After failure of platinum-based chemotherapy.
  • AIDS-related Kaposi's Sarcoma - After failure of prior systemic chemotherapy or intolerance to such therapy.
  • Multiple Myeloma - In combination with bortezomib in patients who have not previously received bortezomib and have received at least one prior therapy.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.


Doxil Drug Class

Doxil is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Doxil

Serious side effects have been reported with Doxil. See "Doxil Precautions."

The most common side effects of Doxil include:

  • hair loss (alopecia). Your hair may re-grow after your treatment.
  • darkening of your nails or separation of your nails from your nail bed
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • lack of appetite or increased thirst
  • bruise or bleed more easily
  • abnormal heart beat
  • a secondary cancer may occur when Doxil is combined with other chemotherapy agents.
  • mouth sores
  • weight changes
  • stomach (abdominal) pain
  • diarrhea
  • eye problems
  • allergic reactions. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:
  • rash
  • flushed face
  • fever
  • hives
  • dizziness or feel faint
  • itching
  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • swelling of your lips or tongue
  • infection

Doxil can cause your urine to become red. You may have red colored urine for 1 to 2 days after your infusion of Doxil. This is normal. Tell your doctor if it does not stop in a few days, or if you see what looks like blood or blood clots in your urine.

Tell your doctor or nurse if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all of the possible side effects of Doxil. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Doxil Interactions

No drug interactions have been studied by the manufacturer. However, you should tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Not all drug interactions are known or reported and new drug interactions are continually being reported.

Doxil Precautions

Doxil may cause serious side effects including:

Infusion site reactions. Serious infusion site reactions can happen with Doxil. Symptoms of infusion reaction may include:

  • pain at injection site
  • skin redness or swelling
  • burning or stinging
  • open skin sores at injection site

Your doctor will watch you closely while you are receiving Doxil and after your infusion for signs of a reaction. You may experience these reactions immediately or within 2 hours of infusion.

Heart problems. Doxorubicin may cause heart problems that may lead to death. These problems can happen during your treatment or months to years after stopping treatment. In some cases heart problems are irreversible. Your chance of heart problems is higher if you:

  • already have heart problems
  • have a history of radiation therapy or are currently receiving radiation therapy to your chest
  • have had treatment with certain other anti-cancer medicines
  • take other medicines that can affect your heart

Tell your doctor if you experience shortness of breath, cough, swelling of your feet and ankles, or fast heartbeat. Your doctor should do tests to check your heart before, during, and after your treatment with Doxil.

Hand-Foot Syndrome. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience tingling or burning, redness, flaking, bothersome swelling, small blisters, or small sores on the palms of their hands or soles of their feetYour doctor may need to reduce the dose of Doxil or stop Doxil. 

Stomatitis. Tell your healthcare provider if you develop painful redness, swelling, or sores in the mouth

Secondary cancers. Some people who have received doxorubicin have developed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Your chance of developing a secondary cancer is higher if you receive Doxil along with other anti-cancer medicines or with radiation therapy.

Fetal Harm. Based on animal data, Doxil may cause your unborn baby harm. Women and men of reproductive age should use effective contraception during treatment with Doxil and for 6 months after treatment. 

Do not receive Doxil if you are allergic to Doxil or any of its ingredients. 

Doxil Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Doxil there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving Doxil.

Inform MD

Before you receive Doxil, tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to Doxil or to any of its ingredients
  • have heart problems
  • have had radiation treatment or currently receiving radiation therapy
  • have liver problems
  • plan to receive any vaccines
  • have any other medical conditions
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Doxil can interact with other medicines. Do not start any new medicine before you talk with the doctor that prescribed Doxil. 

Doxil and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Doxil can harm your unborn baby. Women and men of reproductive age should use effective birth control (contraception) during treatment and for 6 months after treatment. 

Talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent pregnancy while receiving Doxil.

Doxil and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

Doxil can pass into your breast milk and harm your baby. You and your doctor should decide if you will receive Doxil or breastfeed. You should not do both.

Doxil Usage

Receive Doxil exactly as prescribed. 

  • Your doctor will prescribe Doxil in an amount that is right for you.
  • Doxorubicin will be given to you by intravenous (IV) infusion into your vein.
  • Your doctor will do regular blood tests to check for side effects of Doxil.
  • Before receiving Doxil, you may receive other medicines to prevent or treat side effects.
  • Caregivers of children receiving Doxil should take precautions (such as wearing latex gloves) to prevent contact with the patient’s urine and other body fluids for at least 5 days after each treatment.

Doxil Dosage

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • condition
  • side effects
  • how you respond to this medication

Ovarian Cancer: 50 mg/m2 once every 4 weeks. A minimum of 4 courses is recommended.

AIDS-Related Kaposi's Sarcoma: 20 mg/m2 once every three weeks

Multiple Myeloma: 30 mg/m2 on day 4 following bortezomib therapy. You may be treated for up to 8 cycles until disease progression or the occurrence of unacceptable toxicity.


Doxil Overdose

Doxil is usually administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting making it unlikely for an overdose to occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Certain laboratory tests may be required to monitor your body's response to Doxil.

Doxil FDA Warning

  • DOXIL (doxorubicin HCl liposome injection) can cause myocardial damage, including congestive heart failure, as the total cumulative dose of doxorubicin HCl approaches 550 mg/m2. In a clinical study of 250 patients with advanced cancer who were treated with DOXIL, the risk of cardiotoxicity was 11% when the cumulative anthracycline dose was between 450–550 mg/m2. Prior use of other anthracyclines or anthracenediones should be included in calculations of total cumulative dosage. The risk of cardiomyopathy may be increased at lower cumulative doses in patients with prior mediastinal irradiation.
  • Acute infusion-related reactions consisting of, but not limited to, flushing, shortness of breath, facial swelling, headache, chills, back pain, tightness in the chest or throat, and/or hypotension occurred in 11% of patients with solid tumors treated with DOXIL. Serious, life-threatening and fatal infusion reactions have been reported