Treats cancer of the testicles and small cell lung cancer in combination with other medicines. Also called VP-16.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to etoposide, or if you are pregnant.
How to Use This Medicine
- Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins. The medicine must be injected slowly, so your IV tube will need to stay in place for 5 minutes to 3.5 hours.
- You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
If a dose is missed:
- This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using levamisole (Ergamisol®) or cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®).
- Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease or liver disease. Tell your doctor if you have a history of low albumin (plasma protein) in your body.
- This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have chills, fever, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, fast heartbeat, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, or trouble with breathing after you receive the medicine.
- This medicine may cause severe tenderness and pain at the site of the injection. Contact your doctor right away if you notice any pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site.
- This medicine may cause leukemia (cancer of the blood or bone marrow) in rare cases. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about this.
- This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
- Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
- Blue fingernails, lips, skin, palms, or nail beds.
- Blurred vision or changes in vision.
- Fast, slow, pounding, or uneven heartbeat.
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
- Increased sweating, or shivering.
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
- Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
- Red or dark brown urine.
- Redness, pain, or swelling where the needle is placed.
- Shortness of breath, trouble with breathing, or wheezing.
- Swelling in your feet or legs.
- Trouble with swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding or bruising.
- Unusual tiredness or weakness.
- Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Bad or unusual taste in your mouth.
- Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
- Hair loss.
- Loss of appetite, weight loss.
- Mild rash or itching skin.
- Muscle cramps.
- Sores, ulcers, or white patch in the mouth or lips.
- Warmth or redness in your face, neck, arms, or upper chest.
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013