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Daunorubicin (Daunomycin, Cerubidine)

Article Translations: (Spanish)

How does this medicine work?

Daunorubicin (dow-no-roo-bih-sin) destroys cancer cells in all phases of cell life.

How is it given?

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

What are the side effects?


  • low blood cell counts
  • mild nausea
  • vomiting
  • hair loss
  • red or pink urine for 1 or 2 days


  • mouth sores
  • diarrhea


  • heart muscle weakness
  • secondary cancer
  • abnormal liver tests

When should I call the doctor?

  • fever, chills
  • cough
  • hoarseness
  • unusual bleeding
  • unusual bruising
  • irregular heartbeat
  • lower back or side pain
  • shortness of breath
  • mouth sores
  • continued vomiting or diarrhea

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 counts are lowest 7 to 10 days after the medicine is given. Counts are followed closely and should recover within 4 weeks.

Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.

Because the chemotherapy medicine is red, the urine will be red or pink for 1 or 2 days after treatment.

Risk of heart damage increases when total lifetime dose is high. Echocardiograms (heart function tests) are done before starting daunorubicin and at scheduled times during treatment. Medicine dosage is monitored.

To prevent sunburn, wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors. Areas treated in the past with radiation may become red again.

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

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.

Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.


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 

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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

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