Etoposide

Description

Etoposide is an anticancer medicine used to treat cancer of the testicles (the male organ that produces sperm and male hormone), ovaries (the organ that produces eggs and sex hormones in females), lungs, blood, and lymphatic system (network of tissues and organs). Etoposide is generally used in combination with other cancer medicines. It is available on prescription as a capsule or as an injection. This medicine works by preventing the growth of cancer cells in your body. Some common side effects of Etoposide are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throat, mouth ulcers, dizziness, and loss of appetite. The medicine may cause other side effects also. Some of these incidences may not need medical attention and may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your doctor may be able to advise you on how to avoid or mitigate these effects of the medicine. Inform him/her if any of these side effects persist or become troublesome. Etoposide can lower your immunity, hence maintain distance from people having a cold and any other infection. Take Etoposide as prescribed by your doctor. You should follow the exact dose and duration as advised by your doctor. If you are taking Etoposide in capsule form, take it before a meal or empty stomach. If you are prescribed an injection form of this medicine, it will be administered by a healthcare professional at a clinic/hospital. If you have kidney, liver or heart disease, you should consult your doctor before taking Etoposide. You should also inform your doctor about any other medications you are taking, since they may interact with or be impacted by this medication. If you are pregnant or are breastfeeding, consult your doctor before using this medication. You should avoid getting pregnant or breastfeeding while using Etoposide. Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this medicine, as it can potentially harm your unborn child.

Side effects

Major & minor side effects for Etoposide

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decrease in blood cell count
  • Anaemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abnormal Liver function
  • Heart attack
  • Infections
  • Rash
  • Temporary blindness
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Altered sense of taste

Uses of Etoposide

What is it prescribed for?

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Read More
Concerns

Commonly asked questions

  • Onset of action
    The amount of time required for Etoposide to show its action may vary depending on the dose form. However, it usually begins two to three weeks after treatment starts.
  • Duration of effect
    The amount of time for which Etoposide remains active in your body is around 1 to 2 days.
  • Safe with alcohol?
    Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
  • Is it habit forming?
    No habit forming tendencies were reported for Etoposide.
  • Usage in pregnancy?
    Etoposide is not recommended for use in pregnant women as it is may harm the growth of your unborn baby. Your doctor may prescribe this medicine only if the benefits outweigh the risk.
  • Usage while breast-feeding?
    Etoposide is not recommended for use during breastfeeding. This medicine is passed in breast milk, which may harm your baby. You will be prescribed this medicine only if the benefits outweigh the risk. Your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding for a specific period of time or prescribe an alternative medicine based on your clinical condition.

Allergy

Etoposide is not recommended for use if you are previously allergic to it. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, breathing difficulties, etc.

Severe myelosuppression

Myelosuppression is a side effect of some cancer treatments. It is a condition in which bone marrow (spongy substance present in the bone that produces blood cells) activity is decreased, resulting in fewer red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets formation. Etoposide is not recommended for use if you have severe bone marrow suppression (WBC less than 2,000 cells/mm3 or platelet count less than 75,000 cells/mm3) since it may reduce your disease-fighting capacity. Thus, it may worsen your condition.

Live vaccines

Since Etoposide has the potential to suppress normal defence mechanisms. If you get a live vaccine shot while taking this medicine, you might get a severe infection. Your immune response to vaccinations may be reduced.
Warnings for special population

Pregnancy

Etoposide is not recommended for use in pregnant women as it is may harm the growth of your unborn baby. Your doctor may prescribe this medicine only if the benefits outweigh the risk.

Breast-feeding

Etoposide is not recommended for use during breastfeeding. This medicine is passed in breast milk, which may harm your baby. You will be prescribed this medicine only if the benefits outweigh the risk. Your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding for a specific period of time or prescribe an alternative medicine based on your clinical condition.
General warnings

Anaphylactic reactions

Etoposide may cause severe hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reactions. The symptoms of such reactions may include chills, fever, increased heart rate, breathing difficulties, low blood pressure, etc. It usually occurs soon after taking the medicine. Ask for another medicine if you have a known allergy to this medicine.

Use in children

Etoposide should be used with extreme caution in patients below 18 years of age since there is limited information on the use of this medicine in such patients.

Rapid intravenous injection

If you take Etoposide in the form of injection. Then it is intended for slow intravenous infusion only. It must not be given by rapid intravenous injection. Rapid intravenous injections of this medicine may cause serious abnormalities in heart rate.

Drowsiness

Etoposide may cause drowsiness. It is advised that you do not perform any activities that require high mental alertness such as driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery if you experience drowsiness during treatment with this medicine.

Missed Dose

Capsule: If you miss a dose, contact your doctor immediately to establish a new dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed one. Injection: It is administered in the hospital setting by a qualified healthcare professional, thus the chances of missing a dose are very less. If you miss an appointment for a dose of this medicine, contact your doctor immediately and schedule the dose as soon as possible.

Overdose

Capsules: If you have intentionally or accidentally consumed more than the prescribed amount of Etoposide go to the emergency department of your local hospital. Injection: Since Etoposide is administered by a healthcare professional, it is very unlikely to have an overdose. In case if that happens, your doctor will immediately start overdose protocol and will do all necessary treatments to restore your health.
All drugs interact differently for person to person. You should check all the possible interactions with your doctor before starting any medicine.
Interaction with Alcohol

Description

Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.

Instructions

Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
Interaction with Medicine

Phenobarbital

Adalimumab

Phenytoin

Carboplatin

Clozapine

Disease interactions

Infections

Etoposide is not recommended for use if you have active infections as it may worsen your condition. Inform your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection. Also, while going through the treatment with this medicine wash your hands well and avoid contact with people who have infections.

Kidney Disease

Etoposide should be used with extreme caution if you have kidney disease. An impaired kidney will not completely eliminate this medicine from your blood, which increases the risk of toxicity. Inform your doctor if you have kidney disease. You may require dose adjustment based on your clinical condition.
Food interactions
Information not available.
Lab interactions
Information not available.
Capsule: Carefully follow all instructions given by your doctor and report any severe undesirable side effects to the doctor immediately. Do not consume Etoposide in larger or smaller quantities than recommended. Ensure that the treatment course is completed. Do not stop the use of this medicine without consulting your doctor. Injection: It should be administered by a qualified healthcare professional only in a proper healthcare setting. Tell your doctor if you have a known allergy to this medicine. Before getting this medicine, inform your doctor about all of your current medications as well as your medical problems.
Miscelleneous

To be taken on an empty stomach

To be taken as instructed by doctor

May cause sleepiness

How it works
Etoposide work by damaging the genetic material (RNA or DNA) present in the cancer cell that tells them to grow and divide. If the cells are unable to divide they will die eventually.
Legal Status

Approved

Approved

Unknown

Approved

Classification

Category

Podophyllotoxins

Schedule

Schedule H

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https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=508a418e-985f-4208-9324-2230655bb5c2>

Ebs.tga.gov.au. 2021. TGA eBS - Product and Consumer Medicine Information Licence. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 August 2021].

https://www.ebs.tga.gov.au/ebs/picmi/picmirepository.nsf/pdf?OpenAgent&id=CP-2011-PI-03706-3>

Medicines.org.uk. 2021. Vepesid 100 mg Soft Capsules - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) - (emc). [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 August 2021].

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/10534/smpc>

Pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2021. Etoposide. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 August 2021].

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Etoposide>

Drugs, H., 2021. Etoposide: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: < [Accessed 11 August 2021].

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684055.html>

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Information on this page was last updated on 21 Sep 2021

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