Dexrazoxane (Zinecard®, Totect®)

Last Modified: August 21, 2011

Pronounced: dex-ray-ZOX-ane
Classification: Cytoprotective agent

About Dexrazoxane

Dexrazoxane works to protect your heart from the harmful effects of certain types of chemotherapy. Dexrazoxane is a potent "intracellular chelating agent," meaning that it inactivates certain metal ions in the body such as harmful free radicals. The mechanism by which dexrazoxane exerts its cardioprotective activity is not fully understood.

Dexrazoxane can also be used to minimize the damage to tissues if a certain type of chemotherapy medication (anthracycline) leaks out of the vein (extravasation) while it is being administered.

How to Take Dexrazoxane

When dexrazoxane injection is used to prevent heart damage caused by doxorubicin, it is given just before each dose of doxorubicin, by intravenous (into a vein) infusion. When used to prevent tissue damage after extravasation, it is given once a day for 3 days, beginning no more than 6 hours after the leakage.

Possible Side Effects of Dexrazoxane

There are a number of things you can do to manage the side effects of Dexrazoxane. Talk to your doctor or nurse about these recommendations. They can help you decide what will work best for you. These are some of the most common side effects:

Low White Blood Cell Count (Leukopenia or Neutropenia)

White blood cells (WBC) are important for fighting infection. While receiving treatment, your WBC count can drop, putting you at a higher risk of getting an infection. You should let your doctor or nurse know right away if you have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4 F), sore throat or cold, shortness of breath, cough, burning with urination, or a sore that doesn't heal.

Tips to preventing infection:

  • Washing hands, both yours and your visitors, is the best way to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Avoid large crowds and people who are sick (i.e.: those who have a cold, fever or cough or live with someone with these symptoms).
  • When working in your yard, wear protective clothing including long pants and gloves.
  • Do not handle pet waste.
  • Keep all cuts or scratches clean.
  • Shower or bath daily and perform frequent mouth care.
  • Do not cut cuticles or ingrown nails. You may wear nail polish, but not fake nails.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse before scheduling dental appointments or procedures.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse before you, or someone you live with, has any vaccinations.

For more suggestions, read the Neutropenia Tip Sheet.

Kidney and Liver Function

Your kidney or liver function can be affected by this medication and your healthcare team will monitor this with lab work.

Reproductive Changes

Exposure of an unborn child to this medication could cause birth defects, so you should not become pregnant or father a child while on this medication. Effective birth control is necessary during treatment, even if your menstrual cycle stops or you believe your sperm is affected. See OncoLink's section on sexuality for helpful tips for dealing with these side effects.


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