What Etoposide is and what it is used for?
- Etoposide is a plant alkaloid derived from the May apple plant. This medicine blocks the action of an enzyme in cells called topoisomerase II, which is necessary for cell replication and tumor growth. Blocking this enzyme leads to breaks in the DNA, which leads to cancer cell death.
- Etoposide can be used alone or in combination with other medicines to treat small cell lung cancer and testicular cancer. This medicine may also used to treat a number of cancers, as determined by your doctor.
How Etoposide is given?
- Etoposide can be as capsules to take by mouth.
- Etoposide can be given as an infusion into the vein. The infusion time depends on the treatment plan.
What should I know while receiving Etoposide?
- If etoposide leaks into the skin, it can cause severe tissue damage. Tell your nurse right away if you get pain, tenderness or redness at the place where the injection is given or along the vein.
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 6 months after the treatment ends.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- Etoposide may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- You will have regular blood tests to make sure you have enough blood cells and have adequate organ functions to receive etoposide. The timing and dosing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or side effects.
- There are many drugs may affect how etoposide works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of etoposide. You should let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially liver or kidney problems.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, a painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Low platelet count
You may have a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor know if you find red or purple dots on the skin, bleeding from the nose or gums, or any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain.
- Stopped or missed periods
Etoposide can damage the ovaries and stop regular menstrual cycles. A woman may experience menopausal side effects, such as flushing, emotional changes, headaches or difficulty sleeping. Usually menstrual periods may return months or years after treatment is over. You can talk to your doctor about any health or emotional concerns.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
- Hair loss
It may begin 2-3 weeks after your first treatment. Your hair will usually grow back after treatment has finished.
Less common side effects
- Mouth sores
Your doctor can give you medicines that help you ease the discomfort. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve diarrhea.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Taste alteration
Foods may taste differently or you may have a metallic taste in the mouth. Taste may return slowly after the treatment has ended.
Rare but serious side effects
- Allergic reactions
This may happen during or shortly after the infusion, causing fever and chills, breathing difficulties, facial swelling, hives, and a drop in blood pressure. Tell your nurse right away if you feel unwell during an infusion.
- Secondary cancer
Etoposide may cause an increased risk of developing secondary cancer years later. Treatment benefits may outweigh the risk of secondary cancer. Your doctor can talk you about this.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day can help make your recovery a smoother process.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarettes during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, You should check with your doctor.
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking beverages containing grapefruit. This is because grapefruits can affect how etoposide works and can worsen the side effects.