Etoposide is used for the treatment of small cell lung cancer and testicular cancer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this prescription.
In small cell lung cancer, the cancer cells tend to grow quickly and travel to other parts of the body more easily. As a result, the condition is usually only diagnosed after the cancer has spread throughout the body, making recovery less likely. If this condition is detected early, it may be treated effectively before the cancer advances. This condition is usually asymptomatic, which means it doesn’t cause symptoms. Once symptoms do appear, it often indicates that the cancer has invaded other parts of the body. The severity of symptoms usually increases with increased cancer growth and spread. The symptoms may include:
- Bloody mucus from the lungs
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- A persistent cough or hoarseness
- A loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Facial swelling
Call your doctor right away if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. The cause of this disease is believed that of precancerous changes in the lungs can lead to cancer. These changes affect the DNA of cells inside the lungs which causes lung cells to grow faster. Too many changes can cause the cells to become cancerous. Blood vessels feed the cancer cells, allowing them to grow into tumors. Over time, cancer cells may break away from the primary tumor and spread to other parts of the body.
Testicular cancer is highly treatable, even when cancer has spread beyond the testicle. The testicles produce male sex hormones and sperm for reproduction. Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Back pain
- A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- A lump or enlargement in either testicle
- A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
The cancer occurs when healthy cells in a testicle become altered. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But sometimes some cells develop abnormalities, causing this growth to get out of control. These cancer cells continue dividing even when new cells aren’t needed. The accumulating cells form a mass in the testicle.
How does Etoposide work?
Etoposide works by stopping the cancer cells from multiplying. Cancers form when some cells within the body multiply uncontrollably and abnormally. These cells spread, destroying nearby tissues. Like normal healthy cells, cancer cells go through a continuous process of change. Each cell divides into two daughter cells. These cells grow, rest and then divide again.
This drug prevents the cells from entering the dividing stage of their life cycle. It also destroys cells in the phase before mitosis, where proteins are made.
Unfortunately, Etoposide can also affect normal and healthy cells. It is particularly those that multiply quickly such as hair cells and blood cells. The most important side effect is on the bone marrow where blood cells are made. Etoposide can decrease the production of blood cells that leaves people susceptible to infection.
How to use Etoposide?
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster and your risk of side effects will increase. Remember to take the prescription at the same time each day. Drink plenty of fluids. Do not suddenly stop taking ut until your doctor tells you to do so. Even if you feel well, continue to take it until your prescription is finished.
Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor says you may do so safely. Grapefruit can affect the removal of the drug from your body which may affect how it works. You may ask your doctor for more information.
Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin, lungs, and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the capsules.
What are the side effects of Etoposide?
Common side effects:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Temporary hair loss
- Trouble swallowing
- Unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Numbness or tingly feeling
- Mild itching
- Skin rash
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- Sudden chest pain or discomfort
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin
- Vision problems
- Liver problems (nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, or dark urine)
- Low red blood cells (pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath)
- Low white blood cell counts (swollen gums, painful mouth sores, fever, pain when swallowing, skin sores, or trouble breathing)
- Severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads)
Warnings and Precautions
- Chemotherapy medicines can lessen the number of blood cells in your blood. A low white blood cell count can increase your susceptibility to infections. A low red blood cell count causes anaemia and a low platelet count can also cause problems with blood clotting. For this reason, you will need to have regular blood tests. It is to monitor your blood cells during treatment with this medicine.
- Your liver function should be monitored as well during treatment with this medicine.
- This is not recommended for use in people with decreased liver or kidney function.
- This should not be used in people with a very low number of white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets in their blood, and in people with severely decreased liver function.
- Let your doctor know if you are allergic to this drug or ever had an allergic reaction to it.
- Keep this medication far from the direct heat, light, or from the reach of children/pets.