Daunomycin review

Daunomycin is an anthracycline chemotherapy medicament used in the treatment of some cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphatic leukemia.


It is also used for Karposi's sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer of the skin and mouth that can spread to other parts of the body. This medicament is a cytotoxic agent, which prevents cancer cells from reproducing and eventually kills them off. It is typically used as part of a cancer treatment plan in combination with other medicaments.


Daunomycin is available as daunorubicin hydrochloride and daunorubicin citrate liposome. The liposomal formula is structured such that the medicament is contained within lipid (fat) molecules. This formula is able to penetrate body tissue and reach cancer cells easily because of its smaller size and structure. It remains in the body for a longer period than daunorubicin citrate and is considered to be less prone to side effects. Daunomycin's liposomal formula is available as an injection under the brand name DaunoXome in the United States.

This medicament is typically prescribed as one part of a treatment plan for acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphatic leukemia. It has been recently approved as a treatment for the rare Karposi's sarcoma.


To prepare Daunomycin, a vial is filled with 4 mL of sterile water for injection and slowly turned until the material has been completed dissolved in the water. Each vial can provide 20 mg of Daunomycin, then the desired dosage is drawn using a syringe already containing 10 to 15 mL of 0.9% sodium chloride solution. The solution is then injected in a rapidly flowing 5% dextrose injection or 0.9% sodium chloride solution. Daunomycin should not be given with other medicaments, especially heparin.

The dosage of Daunomycin will vary depending on the patient's condition, age, body surface area and medical history.

For patients under 60 years of age with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, a dosage of 45 mg/m2/day of Daunomycin IV infusion is given on the first 3 days of the first course of treatment and on the first 2 days of the succeeding courses. Another medicament, cytosine arabinoside, should be administered in 100 mg/m2/day IV infusion dosage each day for 7 days for the first course of treatment and 5 days for the following courses of treatment.

For patients 60 years of age and above, the dosage is usually lowered to 30 mg/ m2/day IV infusion on the first 3 days of the initial treatment course and again on the first 2 days of the following courses. Cytosine arabinoside dosages remain similar to those for patients below 60 years of age.

The dosage for children also varies depending on the patient's condition, age, body surface area and medical history. For children with lymphocytic leukemia, typically a dosage of 25 mg/m2 Daunomycin IV infusion and vincristine 1.5 mg/m2 should be given every first day of the week along with prednisone 40 mg/m2 PO every day. A complete remission of cancer may be observed after four courses of this treatment. However, if remission remains partial, an additional 2 courses may be administered to facilitate complete remission. For children younger than 2 years of age and patients whose body surface area is below 0.5 m2, it is inspireed to measure dosages of Daunomycin with respect to weight rather than body surface area.


Nausea and vomiting may be experienced after treatment and can last for 2 days. Hair loss may also be experienced, usually starting 3 to 4 weeks into the treatment. These are common side effects and should not cause alarm.

A dangerous side effect is the lowering of the body's resistance to infections. If you have a fever higher than 38 oC (100.5 oF) or if you are feeling generally unwell, seek immediate medical attention.

Other common side effects include bruising and bleeding, changes in the color of urine and nails, sensitivity to the sun, fatigue and changes in taste.


Daunomycin should be administered through a vein with other IV fluids, and must not be injected into muscle tissue or just underneath the skin. Do not inject the medicament into the spinal cavity as this may cause serious nerve damage. Tell your physician if you observe any redness or experience pain, itching or swelling at or around the site of injection. Though rare, Daunomycin may increase the risk for cardiovascular problems, which includes heart failure, during or even months or years after completion of treatment.

Daunomycin has the following structural formula:

Chemical structure of daunomycin

 Molecular formula of daunomycin is C27H29NO10
 Chemical IUPAC Name is 8-acetyl-10-(4-amino-5-hydroxy-6-methyl-tetrahydropyran-2-yl)oxy-6,8,11-trihydroxy-1-methoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrotetracene-5,12-dione
 Molecular weight is 527.52 g/mol

Generic name: Daunorubicin

Brand name(s): Acetyladriamycin, Anthracyline, Cerubidin, Cerubidine, Daunamycin, Daunarubicinum, Daunoblastin, Daunorrubicina, Daunorubicine, Daunorubicinum, Daunoxome, Leukaemomycin C, Ondena, Rubidomycin, Rubomycin C

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