Patient & Family Education Materials

Start over with a New Search

Dactinomycin (Actinomycin-D, AMD, Cosmegen)

Article Translations: (Spanish)

How does this medicine work?

Dactinomycin (dak-ti-noh-mye-sin) is a chemotherapy medicine that destroys cancer cells in all phases of cell life.

How is the medicine given?

Dactinomycin is given into a vein (IV) in the hospital or clinic.

What are the side effects?


  • low blood counts


  • moderate to severe nausea and vomiting
  • skin sensitivity to sunlight
  • hair loss


  • diarrhea
  • acne-like skin rash
  • mouth sores
  • may "reactivate" redness in a site of previous radiation
  • darkening of skin


  • liver damage

Tissue burn may occur if the medicine leaks from the vein or implanted port.

When should I call the doctor?

  • fever, chills
  • cough
  • hoarseness
  • bleeding
  • unusual bruising
  • mouth sores
  • continued vomiting or diarrhea
  • skin irritation
  • skin rash
  • sunburn
  • signs of allergic reaction:
    • rash or hives
    • itching
    • wheezing
    • trouble breathing  call 911

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Anyone handling the contaminated laundry should wear gloves.

Blood samples may be needed to check the effects of the dactinomycin. Blood counts are lowest 7 to 10 days after the medicine is given.

Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.

To prevent sunburn, wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors. All patients should wear sunscreen during treatment and for 1 year after treatment is completed. Avoid extensive exposure to sunlight.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care.


This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the oncology clinic or pharmacy.

Last reviewed by Children's Hem/Onc 8/2015 

Back To Top

This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

© 2024 Children's Minnesota