Etoposide is a drug that is used in chemotherapy and is classified as a plant alkaloid and a topoisomerase II inhibitor. Plant alkaloids are substances from plants. Etoposide is also referred to as VP-16, Toposar, VePesid or etopophos by doctors. Etoposide is also used for testicular, lung, uterine, bladder, lymphomas, prostate, stomach cancer and ovarian cancer. It is also used in high dose therapy in a bone marrow transplant setting.
Availability, Dosage, and Administration of Etoposide
Etoposide is available in tablet form for oral consumption. It can also infused into the patient’s vein, it can be a short infusion or can be an infusion that lasts for over 24 hours. If taken orally, the tablet is to be swallowed on an empty stomach half hour before meals or 2 hours after eating. The treatment is usually started as a 7-day course.
100 mg, 500 mg and 1 g multiple dose vials
50 mg capsules
50 -100 mg/m2IV on days 1 to 5 every 2 to 4 weeks
Most people do not experience side effects when on 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:
- Nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal effects.
- Hair loss
- Low blood count
- Low platelet count
- Loss of fertility
- Low blood pressure
- Metallic taste during the infusion of the drug
- Peripheral neuropathy(rare)
- Inflammation at the injection site.
When should you call a doctor?
If the following symptoms appear, ensure to call a doctor immediately as the symptoms listed below require medical attention.
- Fever of 100.4 or more and chills as it indicates an infection
- Nausea that interferes with the ability to eat
- Vomiting for more than 4 to 5 times in 24 hours
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Black or tarry stools
- Mouth sores
- Extreme fatigue
- Yellowing of eyes
- Pain, redness or swelling in the intravenous site.
- Before starting etoposide treatment, inform your doctor about other medications that you might be taking. Do not take aspirin or other medications that contain aspirin.
- 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.