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Idarubicin is used in combination with other medications in the treatment of acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (ANLL), also called as acute myelogenous leukemia (AML: a type of cancer of the white blood cells) and breast cancer in advanced stage after failure of treatment with other medications.

How it works

Idarubicin is an anti-cancer drug belonging to a class of medication called anthracyclines. It works by slowing or stopping the replication of cancer cells thereby inhibiting the growth of cancerous tissue.

Common side effects

Joint pain, Blisters on skin, Diarrhoea, Hair loss, Headache, Nausea, Skin rash, Skin redness, Sore mouth, Sore throat, Stomach pain, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Inform your doctor if you have or have had heart disease or any gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Men are advised to follow contraceptive measures for at least 3 months after completion of treatment with idarubicin.
  • Vaccination with a live vaccine should be avoided.
  • Liver and kidney function should be evaluated with conventional clinical laboratory tests (using serum bilirubin and serum creatinine as indicators) prior to, and during treatment.
  • Blood uric acid levels, potassium, calcium phosphate, and creatinine should be evaluated after initial treatment.
  • Idarubicin can cause dizziness and, therefore, caution has to be taken before operating an automobile or machinery or engaging in activities requiring mental alertness and coordination.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is idarubicin a vesicant?
Idarubicin can cause inflammation of the vein in which it is administered; and irritation and ulceration of surrounding tissue, if leakage occurs at the site of intravenous administration.
Q. What is idarubicin used for?
Idarubicin is used in the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (a type of cancer of the white blood cells) in combination with other medications and breast cancer in advance stage after failure with other medications. 
Q. How does idarubicin work?
Idarubicin acts by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

Content on this page was last updated on 03 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)