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Etoposide is used to treat testicular cancer and certain forms of lung cancer (such as small cell lung cancer). Etoposide works by slowing the growth of cancer cells.
This medication is given by slow injection into a vein by a health care professional. It is given as directed by your doctor, usually over 30 to 60 minutes every day or every other day for a total of 3 to 5 doses. This cycle may be repeated every 3 to 4 weeks.
This medication may cause low blood pressure. Tell your doctor or other health care professional if you feel dizzy. Your injection may need to be stopped or given more slowly.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to treatment. Your doctor will check your blood counts to make sure you can receive your next cycle. Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments.
See also Warning and How to Use sections.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, tiredness, weakness, changes in taste, loss of appetite, and pain/redness at the injection site may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Eating several small meals, not eating before treatment, or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.
Pain or sores in the mouth and throat may occur. Brush your teeth carefully/gently, avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, and rinse your mouth frequently with cool water mixed with baking soda or salt. It may also be best to eat soft, moist foods.
Many people using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: numbness/tingling of arms/legs, sudden vision changes, eye pain, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, painful/difficult swallowing, redness/swelling of your veins.
This medication may lower your ability to fight infections. This may make you more likely to get a serious (rarely fatal) infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as fever, chills, persistent sore throat, cough).
Although etoposide may be used to treat certain leukemias, it may rarely cause acute leukemia. Ask your doctor for more details.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing, fast heartbeat, seizures.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using etoposide, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood problems (such as low red blood cells/white blood cells/platelets), liver disease, kidney disease, previous radiation/chemotherapy treatment, heart problems.
Etoposide can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Therefore, wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infection. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.
This drug may make you dizzy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Daily use of alcohol while using this medicine may increase your risk for stomach bleeding. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about how much alcohol you may safely drink.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially allergic effects.
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially drowsiness, weakness, mouth/throat sores, loss of appetite, low white blood cells, and loss of too much body water (dehydration).
This medication can affect fertility in both males and females. Ask your doctor for more details.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using etoposide. Etoposide may harm an unborn baby. Women should ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication and for 6 months after stopping treatment. Men should ask about reliable forms of birth control while using this medication and for 4 months after stopping treatment. If you or your partner becomes pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication.
This medication passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using etoposide is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Consult the product instructions and your pharmacist for storage details. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist right away to establish a new dosing schedule.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as complete blood count, kidney/liver function) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
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