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Etoposide Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to etoposide: oral capsule, oral capsule liquid filled

Along with its needed effects, etoposide may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking etoposide:

More common
  • Black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • cough
  • fever
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale skin
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • swollen glands
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
Less common
  • Blurred vision
  • confusion
  • cough
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fast heartbeat
  • feeling of warmth
  • headache
  • hives
  • itching
  • nervousness
  • numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes
  • pounding in the ears
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
  • skin rash
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • sweating
  • tightness in the chest
  • wheezing
  • Bone pain
Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach pain, severe
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dark urine
  • diarrhea
  • difficult breathing
  • drowsiness
  • joint or muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle tremors
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rapid, deep breathing
  • red, irritated eyes
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • restlessness
  • seizures
  • stomach cramps
  • yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects of etoposide may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common Incidence not known
  • Bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
  • change in taste
  • constipation
  • cracked lips
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • heartburn
  • lack or loss of strength
  • pain or burning in the throat
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to etoposide: intravenous powder for injection, intravenous solution, oral capsule


Very common (10% or more): Myelosuppression (sometimes fatal), leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, anemia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, mucositis (including stomatitis and esophagitis)
Common (1% to 10%): Diarrhea
Rare (less than 0.1%): Dysphagia, dysgeusia[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, transient systolic hypotension (following rapid IV administration), hypertension
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cyanosis
Rare (less than 0.1%): Heart failure[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Anaphylaxis (sometimes fatal)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Alopecia, pigmentation
Common (1% to 10%): Rash, urticaria, pruritus
Rare (less than 0.1%): Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, radiation recall dermatitis, maculopapular rash[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Hepatotoxicity[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Asthenia, malaise
Frequency not reported: Fever[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Pulmonary fibrosis, interstitial pneumonitis, bronchospasm, dyspnea[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Infectious complications[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Tumor lysis syndrome (sometimes fatal) has been reported following the use of this drug in association with other chemotherapeutic drugs[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more: Neurotoxicity (e.g., somnolence, fatigue)
Common (1% to 10%): Dizziness
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Peripheral neuropathy
Rare (less than 0.1%): Seizure (occasionally associated with allergic reactions), optic neuritis, cortical blindness transient, neurotoxicity (e.g., somnolence, fatigue)
Frequency not reported: Aftertaste[Ref]


Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Optic neuritis, transient cortical blindness[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Extravasation (e.g., local soft tissue toxicity, swelling, pain, cellulitis, necrosis including skin necrosis), phlebitis


Common (1% to 10%): Acute leukemia
Frequency not reported: Acute promyelocytic leukemia[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

3. "Product Information. Vepesid (etoposide)." Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ.

Some side effects of etoposide may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.