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Vorinostat Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of vorinostat include: anemia, diarrhea, nausea, thrombocytopenia, and vomiting. Other side effects include: pulmonary embolism. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to vorinostat: oral capsule

Along with its needed effects, vorinostat 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 vorinostat:

More common
  • Anxiety
  • black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • body aches or pain
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • confusion
  • convulsions
  • cough
  • decreased urine
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • dry mouth
  • ear congestion
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • fever
  • headache
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of voice
  • lower back or side pain
  • mood changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nasal congestion
  • nausea or vomiting
  • no blood pressure
  • no breathing
  • no pulse
  • numbness or tingling in the face, arms, or legs
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • pain, redness, or swelling in the arm or leg
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale skin
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • rapid weight gain
  • runny nose
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • sudden shortness of breath or troubled breathing
  • swollen glands
  • trouble speaking, thinking, or walking
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual drowsiness, dullness, or feeling of sluggishness
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
Less common
  • Persistent non-healing sore
  • pink growth
  • reddish patch or irritated area
  • shiny bump
  • white, yellow, or waxy scar-like area
  • Chest discomfort
  • general feeling of illness
  • hoarseness
  • indigestion
  • pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck
  • rapid, shallow breathing
  • severe nausea or vomiting
  • sneezing
  • stomach pain
  • sweating
  • tightness in the chest
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • wheezing
  • yellow skin and eyes

Some side effects of vorinostat 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
  • Change in taste
  • cracks in the skin
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • itching skin
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss of heat from the body
  • loss of taste
  • muscle spasm
  • red, swollen skin
  • scaly skin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to vorinostat: oral capsule


General side effects including fatigue (52.3%), decreased weight (20.9%), chills (16.3%), dizziness (15.1%), and pyrexia (10.5%) have been reported. A case of syncope has also been reported.[Ref]


Gastrointesinal side effects including diarrhea (52.3%), nausea (40.7%), dysgeusia (27.9%), anorexia (24.4%), dry mouth (16.3%), vomiting (15.1%), constipation (15.1%), and decreased appetite (14%) have been reported. Cases of cholecystitis and gastrointestinal hemorrhage have also been reported.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects including thrombocytopenia (25.6%), increased blood creatinine (16.3%), and anemia (up to 14.0%) have been reported.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects including muscle spasms (19.8%) have been reported. A case of spinal cord injury has also been reported.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects including alopecia (18.6%) and pruritis (11.6%) have been reported. A case of exfoliative dermatitis has also been reported.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects including peripheral edema (12.8%) have been reported. Cases of deep vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction, and ischemic stroke have also been reported.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects including headache (11.6%) have been reported.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects including upper respiratory infection (10.5%), cough (10.5%), and pulmonary embolism (4.7%) have been reported. A case of lobar pneumonia has also been reported.[Ref]


Oncologic side effects including squamous cell carcinoma (3.5%) have been reported. A case of T-cell lymphoma has also been reported.[Ref]


Other side effects have been reported including a case of a death from unknown causes. Cases of enterococcal infection, infection, sepsis, and streptococcal bacteremia have also been reported.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Zolinza (vorinostat)." Merck & Company Inc, West Point, PA.

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

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