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Etoposide phosphate

Generic name: etoposide phosphate [ e-TOE-poe-side-FOS-fate ]
Brand name: Etopophos
Dosage form: intravenous powder for injection (100 mg)
Drug class: Mitotic inhibitors

Medically reviewed by on Jul 25, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is etoposide phosphate?

Etoposide phosphate is used to treat cancer of the lung or testicles.

Etoposide phosphate may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Etoposide phosphate can increase your risk of bleeding or infection. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or new signs of infection (fever, mouth sores, sore throat, trouble breathing).

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to etoposide.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • kidney disease; or

  • if you use a blood thinner (such as warfarin) and you have routine "INR" or prothrombin time tests.

Using etoposide phosphate may increase your risk of developing other types of cancer, such as leukemia. Talk with your doctor about your specific risk.

Etoposide can harm an unborn baby if the mother or the father is using etoposide phosphate.

  • If you are a woman, do not use etoposide if you are pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.

  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 4 months after your last dose.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using etoposide.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because etoposide can harm an unborn baby.

You should not breastfeed while using etoposide.

How is etoposide phosphate given?

Etoposide is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

For testicular cancer: Etoposide phosphate is usually given during the first 5 days of a 21-day or 28-day treatment cycle.

For lung cancer: Etoposide phosphate is usually given for 4 or 5 days in a row.

Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when etoposide phosphate is injected.

Etoposide can increase your risk of bleeding or infection. You will need frequent medical tests. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your etoposide phosphate injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving etoposide phosphate?

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using etoposide phosphate, or you could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Etoposide phosphate side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).

Etoposide phosphate may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pain, burning, irritation, or skin changes where the injection was given;

  • severe nausea and vomiting;

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding, purple or red spots under your skin; or

  • low white blood cell counts--fever, mouth sores, skin sores, sore throat, cough, trouble breathing.

Common side effects of etoposide phosphate may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • constipation;

  • fever;

  • trouble swallowing; or

  • unusual or unpleasant taste in the mouth.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Etoposide phosphate dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Testicular Cancer:

50 to 100 mg/m2 IV once a day over 5 minutes to 3.5 hours on days 1 through 5 of each 21-day (or 28-day cycle)
100 mg/m2 IV once a day over 5 minutes to 3.5 hours on days 1, 3, and 5 of each 21-day (or 28-day cycle)

Use: For treatment of patients with refractory testicular tumors (in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs)

Usual Adult Dose for Small Cell Lung Cancer:

35 to 50 mg/m2 IV once a day over 5 minutes to 3.5 hours for 4 days
50 mg/m2 IV once a day over 5 minutes to 3.5 hours for 5 days

Use: For first-line treatment of patients with small cell lung cancer (in combination with cisplatin)

What other drugs will affect etoposide phosphate?

Other drugs may affect etoposide, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.