Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond


Generic Name: Dexrazoxane


Trade name: Zinecard®

Drug type:  Dexrazone is a drug used to reduce the undesired side effects of certain chemotherapy agents.  It is referred to as a chemoprotectant, antineoplastic adjunct, or cardioprotective agent. (For more detail, see "How this drug works" section below).

What This Drug Is Used For:

  • Dexrazoxane is used to reduce the incidence and severity of heart problems associated with the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin in women being treated for metastatic breast cancer.  
  • It is only used for women who have received a high cumulative dose of doxorubicin and who would benefit from continued therapy.  
  • It is not recommended for women who are just starting doxorubicin. (There is some evidence that the addition of dexrazoxane when just starting doxorubicin may interfere with the antitumor effects of doxorubicin).

Note:  If a drug has been approved for one used, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.

How This Drug Is Given:

  • This medication is given through a vein (intravenously, IV)
  • It is given just prior to doxorubicin
  • There is no pill form of this medication
  • The amount of dexrazoxane that you will receive depends on many factors, including your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being treated.  Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.

Side Effects:

  • The side effects seen with treatment of dexrazoxane are likely attributable to the other chemotherapy medications being given in combination with dexrazoxane.
  • Low blood cell counts, may be slightly lower when dexrazoxane is used, however there was no difference found in the time to recovery of blood counts.
  • Slight increase in occurrence of nausea and vomiting.

Infusion-related side effects (symptoms which may occur during the actual treatment) include:

  • Pain at the injection site

Not all side effects are listed above some that are rare (occurring in less than 10% of patients) are not listed here.  However, you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

When to contact your doctor or health care provider:

Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency.  Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
  • Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools or urine
  • Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
  • Sudden weight gain, swelling in feet or ankles, shortness of breath

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.


  • Before starting dexrazoxane treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including over-the-counter, vitamins, or herbal remedies).  Do not take aspirin or products containing aspirin unless your doctor permits this.
  • Do not receive any kind of vaccination without your doctor's approval while taking dexrazoxane.
  • Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment.  Pregnancy category C (use in pregnancy only when benefit to the mother outweighs risk to the fetus).
  • For both men and women: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking dexrazoxane.  Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended.  Discuss with your doctor when you may safely become pregnant after therapy.
  • Should only be used with chemotherapy regimens containing anthracyclines.
  • Do not breast feed while taking this medication.

Self-Care Tips:

  • You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
  • Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
  • To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals.  
  • Get plenty of rest. 
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team.  They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.

Monitoring and Testing:

A baseline heart evaluation is recommended before starting treatment, and a heart function test will be done as your doctor prescribes.  You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking dexrazoxone, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy.  Periodic blood work to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of other organs (such as your kidneys and liver) will also be ordered by your doctor.   

How This Drug Works:

Chemoprotective agents are drugs that are used with certain types of chemotherapy to protect the body from or minimize the side effects of the chemotherapy.  These medications do not eliminate side effects in general.  Rather, they protect the body from some of the potentially serious side effects.  These drugs also have side effects of their own so they are used only with specific types of chemotherapy or when the benefit clearly is greater than the risk. 

How dexrazoxane works is not fully understood.  It is thought that by being broken down within the cells into other chemicals, these chemicals interfere with harmful elements known as free radicals.  These free radicals are thought to be responsible, in part, for heart problems caused by certain types of chemotherapy drugs.

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. is designed to provide the latest information about chemotherapy to patients and their families, caregivers and friends. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit