Ellence (generic name, epirubicin hydrochloride) is an example of a chemotherapeutic drug in the class of drugs called anthracyclines.
Inside cancer cells, Ellence binds to DNA and certain enzymes involved in the opening of DNA; interferes with the repair of modified DNA; and blocks synthesis of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Furthermore, treatment with Ellence results in the production of toxic substances within the cancer cells.
Some women with breast cancer of Stage I and higher receive adjuvant (i.e., post-surgical) treatment with Ellence alone or in combination with other types of chemotherapeutic drugs. For example, some women with breast cancer of Stage IIIB and higher or recurrent breast cancer receive adjuvant treatment with Ellence and the vinca alkaloid, vinorelbine.
Although anthracyclines (such as Ellence) can be an effective in the treatment of breast cancer, anthracyclines pose a risk of cardiotoxic side effects (i.e., severe heart problems). Therefore, limited doses of Ellence typically are administered to patients. Moreover, use of the cardioprotective drug, Dexrazoxane, in patients receiving Ellence may reduce the risk of cardiotoxic side effects. Nevertheless, during treatment with Ellence, patients should be closely monitored for any heart problems.