How does this medicine work?

Etoposide (e-toe-poe-side) is used to treat certain types of cancer. It destroys the cancer cells during certain phases of cell life.

How is it given?

Etoposide is given in the hospital or clinic by IV infusion over 30 to 60 minutes (too- rapid infusion may cause low blood pressure). It may also be given at home in pill form, or it can be made into a liquid by certain pharmacies.

  • If using the liquid form, put on gloves and shake well right before using. Draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe. Give a small squirt of the medicine inside the cheek. To avoid choking, let your child swallow each squirt before giving more. Wash the dropper or syringe right after use, and discard the gloves.
  • For babies, put on gloves, mix the medicine with a small amount of formula or breastmilk, and give it with a bottle nipple before a feeding. Do not add medicine to a whole bottle because if your baby does not finish it, you will not know how much of the medicine was taken. Wash the bottle nipple right after use, and discard the gloves.

Other instructions:

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Etoposide capsules or liquid may be taken with food.

Check with the doctor, before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, herbs, or vitamins.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If one dose is missed, give it as soon as you remember that day. Never give a double dose.

If your child vomits within 30 minutes after receiving a dose, give it again. If your child vomits after 30 minutes, do not repeat the dose. Call the oncology clinic if more than one dose is missed or vomited.

What are the side effects?


  • low blood cell counts
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting


  • headache
  • impaired liver function
  • tingling in arms and legs


  • mouth sores
  • low blood pressure
  • secondary cancer

Etoposide can also cause an allergic reaction. Signs of this are:

  • redness in the face
  • rash or hives
  • fever or chills
  • shortness of breath
  • trouble breathing

When should I call the clinic?

Call hematology helpline 982403210 if:

  • bleeding
  • fever
  • pain or burning while urinating
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • mouth sores
  • allergic reaction
  • trouble breathing (call 112)

What else do I need to know?

The blood counts should return to normal around 20 days after the medicine is given.

Your child’s blood pressure and heart rate will be closely watched while receiving this medicine by IV.

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. It is important to share this information with anyone involved in your child’s care.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand as the pharmacy may need 2 or 3 days to refill the prescription. Check the label for the expiration date. Flush outdated medicines down the toilet instead of putting them in the garbage.

Store all medicines in their original container and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children’s reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of chemotherapy medicine is taken, call the oncology clinic immediately.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call:

Hematology Clinic
3rd floor, Kedar
Opp.Krupa Petrol Pump,
Parimal Garden, Ambawadi
Clinic: 07926463219
Whattsapp: 8238065890