Etoposide (Trade names: VP-16, Toposar, VePesid, etopophos) – Chemo Drug Used In Lung Cancer Treatment

Etoposide is the chemotherapy drug and is classified as a plant alkaloid (Epipodophyllotoxin) and a topoisomerase II inhibitor. Plant alkaloids are substances that are made from plants. Etoposide is available under the trade name VP-16 or Toposar. The drug acts by inhibiting topoisomerase II, thereby inhibiting DNA synthesis.

Picture of Etoposide

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Availability, Dosage and Administration of Etoposide

Etoposide is available in tablet form and can be taken orally. It is also available in injectable form and can be administered as an infusion into the patient’s vein, it can be a short infusion or can be an infusion that lasts for over 24 hours.


In the oral form it is available as capsule with the dose strength of 50mg and in the injectable form it is available as 20mg/ml.


  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Stomach cancer
  • As a high dose therapy in the setting of transplantation.


The recommended dose depends on the indication or use. It is generally given at 100 to 120 mg/m2, for 1 to 3 days, every 3 weeks.

Side effects

Most people do not experience side effects while being treated with etoposide. Even if side effects occur they are predictable in terms of their onset and duration. These side effects are almost always reversible and will go after the treatment is complete. The most common side effects are listed below:

  • Myelosuppression- It is the dose limiting side effect
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Mucositis
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammatory reaction at injection site
  • Radiation recall skin reaction
  • Increased risk of secondary malignancy


  • Before starting Etoposide treatment, inform your doctor about other medications that you might be taking.
  • Do not take any kind of vaccination or immunization without informing your doctor
  • Inform your doctor before starting the Etoposide treatment if you are pregnant
  • Do not conceive a child while on Etoposide treatment. This applies to both men and women.

Read more on chemotherapy in the treatment of lung cancer.

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