Etoposide review

Etoposide is a drug that is often used as a form of chemotherapy prescribed as treatment for certain types of cancer. Oftentimes, it is administered along with other drugs.

Etoposide has been used for treatment of cancers of the lungs, ovary, and testicles. It is also given to patients with lymphoma, glioblastoma multiforme, Ewing’s sarcoma and non-lymphocytic leukemia.

Etoposide is derived from a toxin that occurs in the American Mayapple. This toxin is called, podophyllotoxin.

As a drug, Etoposide attaches itself to the enzyme, topoisomerase II. This inhibits the functions of the enzyme. This leads to the disruption in the DNA replication and transcription. This halts the production of the rapidly dividing cells. Eventually, this process causes the death of cells and reduces the chances of cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body.

Etoposide is available in two forms. It can be given as a drip or an infusion, in which it will look like a colorless fluid. It can also be taken as a capsule. The capsules will be pale pink in color and will be available in either 50 mg or 10 mg doses.

When given intravenously (as a drip), Etoposide will be administered with the help of a fine tube. The tube is meant to be inserted into a vein close to the patient’c collarbone. However, it can also be given through a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter line). The line is inserted directly through a vein located in your arm.

When giving Etoposide intravenously, the doctor must make sure the process is doen slowly. Usually, it takes 30 minutes to an hour to finish the procedure. This is done since Etoposide can cause the patient’s blood pressure to drop. By doing it slowly, the doctor will be able to monitor the blood pressure and adjust the speed of the drip accordingly.

When given as capsules, the patients must swallow the capsules whole.

After the treatment, doctors recommend that the patient take in lots of fluids to protect the kidneys and the bladder from damage. Etoposide is very powerful so to protect these organs, the patient is advised to drink 1.5- 3.5 liters of water, both on the actual day of treatment and for the succeeding days.

Each patient reacts to chemotherapy differently. Depending on the type of ailment and the person’s overall condition, Etoposide will affect hi, differently.

However, there are certain side effects that are common to most patients.

As a powerful drug, Etoposide can affect your body’s bone marrow, causing you to produce fewer white blood cells. With reduced white blood cell supply, your body will have fewer cells to rely on for defense. This makes you more vulnerable to infection. Ten to fourteen days after receiving Etoposide, your body will have its lowest resistance to infection. However, your blood cells will increase in due time and you should be able to regain the normal white blood cell count before your next set of treatments.

Aside from affecting your white blood cells, Etoposid can also affect the production of platelets. These platelets are responsible for helping your blood clot to avoid unnecessary bleeding and promote faster healing. As such, lowered amount of platelets can lead to bruising, nosebleeds, bleeding gum and sometimes, even rashes on the skin.

While on treatment, you may also develop anemia, a condition where you have your red blood cells are at a lower level than normal. Anemia can make you fell fatigued and may make you experience shortness of breath. Once these symptoms are present, contact your doctor immediately.

Like what is seen in most cancer patients, Etoposide can also lead to hair loss. The hair may start thinning three to four weeks after the first treatment. In some cases, patients may lose all their hair. However, this condition is temporary and hair will grow back as soon as the treatment is over.

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects, too. Usually, these side effects are much more prominent when Etoposide is taken in capsule form. To manage these side effects, the doctor will prescribe anti-emetic drugs. Also, you may experience loss of appetite as well as a constant feeling of fatigue.

Etoposide has the following structural formula:

Chemical structure of etoposide

• Molecular formula of etoposide is C32H32O13S
• Chemical IUPAC Name is 4'-demethyl-epipodophyllotoxin 9-[4,6-O-(R)-ethylidene-beta-D- glucopyranoside], 4'-(dihydrogen phosphate)
• Molecular weight is 588.557 g/mol
Etoposide available : 50mg tablets

Generic name: Teniposide

Brand name(s): Teniposido, Teniposidum, Veham-Sandoz, Vehem, Vumon

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