Highlights for vinblastine
Vinblastine is an injectable drug that’s used to treat certain types of cancers. These include Hodgkin’s disease, lymphocytic leukemia, mycosis fungoides, testicular cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and histiocytic lymphoma.
This drug should only be given by intravenous route (into your vein) by your healthcare provider in a clinic or hospital. You won’t inject this drug at home.
You should keep all of your appointments to get your medication. Not receiving your medication on schedule can cause convulsions or serious and permanent damage to your nerves and brain.
Vinblastine will affect your blood cells. Your doctor will monitor your complete blood cell counts during treatment.
Common side effects include hair loss, jaw pain, and pain in the body parts affected by the cancer. They also include high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and constipation.
What is vinblastine?
Vinblastine is a prescription drug. It’s available as an injectable solution, which is only given by a healthcare provider.
This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you need to take it with other drugs.
Why it's used
Vinblastine is used to treat the following types of cancer:
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- lymphocytic lymphoma
- histiocytic lymphoma
- mycosis fungoides
- testicular cancer
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
- Letterer-Siwe disease (histiocytosis X)
- resistant breast cancer
How it works
Vinblastine belongs to a class of drugs called vinca alkaloids. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They are often used to treat similar conditions.
Vinblastine works by stopping cancer cells from separating into two cells. This stops the growth of cancer cells.
vinblastine Side Effects
Most Common Side Effects
The most common side effects that occur with vinblastine include:
numbness in your fingers or toes
bleeding from your rectum
bone pain in your arms and legs
pain and swelling at the site where the drug is administered
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious Side Effects
If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
high blood pressure. Your doctor may check your blood pressure before and during treatment with vinblastine.
hearing loss. Vinblastine can cause partial or total deafness. This may be temporary or permanent.
infection. Symptoms include:
- sore throat
- sores in your mouth
- unusual bleeding or bruising
Before starting treatment with vinblastine, make sure that any infections you may have are under control.
Vinblastine does not cause drowsiness.
You may have shortness of breath after receiving your vinblastine injection. This is more common when vinblastine is given with other medications, or if you have a lung disorder.
vinblastine May Interact with Other Medications
Vinblastine can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs or vitamins you’re taking.
Don’t eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking vinblastine. The level of the drug in your system may be increased. This raises your risk of drug side effects.
How to Take vinblastine (Dosage)
Your doctor will determine a dose that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dose. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your doctor or nurse administers the drug to you.
Vinblastine comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.
If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all
Your cancer may get worse.
If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule
Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.
If you take too much
You are at increased risk of side effects from the drug. If you think you’ve been given too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.
What to do if you miss a dose/appointment
Your doctor will schedule your weekly doses of vinblastine. It’s important to stick to that schedule and receive your doses as directed by your doctor. If you miss an appointment, call your doctor and reschedule it as soon as you can.
How to tell the drug is working
Your doctor will monitor your cancer growth and blood cells while you’re receiving this drug. They’ll be able to tell if vinblastine is working for you.
Vinblastine is a short-term drug treatment.
- Vinblastine sulfate- vinblastine sulfate injection. (2012, January). Retrieved from http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=f073b58e-56d6-4c8d-a2ce-b37719402d77
Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group
Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on August 28, 2015