Etoposide (US and Canadian brand name VePesid, also known as VP-16) is a chemotherapy agent used in the treatment of several cancers including Hodgkin's Lymphoma / Disease and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. For lymphomas it is more often than not used in conjunction with other chemotherapy agents in a multidrug regimen. It is derived from the mayapple plant (Podophyllum peltatum). Etoposide blocks the cell reproduction cycle by disruption of chromosomal dynamics.
Before taking this medicine: Inform your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take. Inform your medical doctor of any other medical conditions or allergies or if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Dosing: This drug is usually administered by mouth in capsule form or possibly by intravenous drip (into a vein). Exact dosage is determined by a doctor and is based on body size.
While taking this medicine: If the patient develops mouth ulcers ask the medical team about mouth care. Take care when brushing ones teeth. Monitor your temperature - if the patient develops a fever of 100.5 degrees F (38 deg C) or a point determined by your medical team contact your doctor of visit a medical facility.
Short Term Side Effects: This medicine makes you more susceptible to illness due to falling blood counts - stay away from people who are sick. It may also reduce the clotting ability of blood - avoid injury or bruising. Etoposide can cause nausea and vomiting. Your doctor may prescribe additional medications to help with this. The drug also may affect your appetite or alter taste sensation - monitor your intake of food. Occasionally a skin rash may develop or the skin may darken temporarily.
Common: hair loss usually starts 3 to 4 weeks after treatment starts. All hair may fall out including possible thinning or loss of eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair on other parts of the body. Hair should grow back after treatment stops.
Less common: Diarrhea which can be controlled with medications recommended by your doctor. Drink plenty of fluids/water to prevent dehydration. Sleeplessness, headaches, and/or confusion is rare but inform your doctor. Your medical team should monitor you for allergic reaction to this drug at time of treatment.
Long Term Side Effects:
This drug could affect fertility (the ability to have children). Discussions with medical staff prior to starting this drug are recommended. The drug may also increase the risk of developing leukemia after treatment.
Some of the regimens using Etoposide:
- Stanford V (no letters are used) - Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Detailed information from Healthtouch (US)
Detailed information from Cancerbackup (UK) (new name)
Information sheet from CanCareSA (Australia)
Etoposide for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in the Elderly from the Medical Sciences Bulletin
Description and Natural History of the Mayapple and Etoposide Information from Cyberbotanica by Lucy A. Snyder
Information on Alkaloids and chromatin function inhibitors from UNMC
Bristol-Myers Squibb (VePesid)
Customer Service: (609) 897-2000
P.O. Box 4500 Princeton, New Jersey 08543-4500
For more information on Hodgkin's Lymphoma, please see the following pages:
Adult Hodgkin's Disease: Chemotherapy
Adult Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Treatment
Adult Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Introduction
Childhood Hodgkin's Disease: Chemotherapy
Childhood Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Treatment
Childhood Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Introduction
For more information on Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, please see the following pages:
Adult Nonhodgkin's Lymphoma: Chemotherapy
Adult Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Treatment
Adult Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Introduction
Childhood Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Chemotherapy
Childhood Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Treatment
Childhood Non-Hodgkin's Information Pages