Etoposide Oral

Brand Names

Vepisid® (There may be other brand names for this medication)

How is it Administered?

This drug is taken by mouth, as a capsule. Oral doses over 200 mg should be divided to ensure maximal absorption. May take with food.

What is it Used For?

This drug is used to treat Hodgkin’s disease, testicular cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), lung cancer, multiple myeloma, neuroblastoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and gastric (stomach) cancer.

How Does it Work?

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control.    Both normal and cancer cells go through cycles that include a resting phase, active growing phases, and division. Your chemotherapy schedule is based upon the type of cancer you have, the rate at which they divide, and the times when each drug is the most likely to be effective. This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.

Etoposide is a type of plant alkaloid called a podopyllotoxin or a topoisomerase inhibitor. It attacks the cancer cells during their reproduction cycle. The faster cells are reproducing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will damage/kill the cells. Unfortunately, we also have normal cells that reproduce frequently. Normal cells most likely to be affected by chemotherapy are the cells that line the digestive tract (mouth, stomach, and intestines), hair follicles, and blood cells.

These normal cells will eventually grow back and be healthy. During treatment, however, you may experience side effects including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores, hair loss, and decreased blood counts. Low blood counts may cause fatigue, anemia, and a significant decrease in your ability to fight off infections.

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