Why is cisplatin and etoposide prescribed?
Etoposide and cisplatin are a combination of two chemotherapy drugs. It is useful to treat small cell lung cancer.
Etoposide is in a class of medications known as podophyllotoxin derivatives. Cisplatin is in a class of medications known as platinum-containing compounds. These chemotherapy drugs work by destroying quickly dividing cells (cancer cells). The drug combination kills cancer cells by damaging DNA and preventing the lung cancer cells from dividing into new cells.
How should cisplatin and etoposide be used?
Your doctor will give you etoposide and cisplatin in the chemotherapy day unit. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you. Etoposide and cisplatin can be given with other cancer drugs.
Your nurse will give you anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs before the chemotherapy. The chemotherapy drugs can be given through:
- a short thin tube the nurse puts into a vein in your arm or hand (cannula)
- a fine tube that goes under the skin of your chest and into a vein close by (central line)
- a fine tube that is put into a vein in your arm and goes up into a vein in your chest (PICC line).
Your nurse will give you cisplatin as a drip (infusion). You will be given extra fluids through your drip before and after the cisplatin to protect your kidneys.
Etoposide will be given as a drip for over an hour.
You can also take etoposide as capsules.
If you are taking etoposide as capsules, the nurse or pharmacist will give you these to take at home. Always take them exactly as they have been explained to you by your doctor.
Take your capsules with a glass of water on an empty stomach. This means an hour before food or 2 hours after food. Take them at the same time every day. Do not chew, open, or crush.
If you forget to take the capsules, take the next dose when it is due. Do not take a double dose. If you take too many capsules, tell your doctor or nurse immediately.
If you are sick just after taking the capsules, contact your nurse. Do not take another dose.
Other things to remember about your capsules:
- Wash your hands after taking your capsules.
- Other people should avoid direct contact with the chemotherapy drugs.
- Keep them safe and out of sight and reach of children.
- Keep them in the original package and at room temperature, away from heat and direct sunlight.
- If you discontinue treatment, return any unused capsules to the pharmacist.
What side effects can cisplatin and etoposide cause?
Cisplatin and etoposide may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
Effects on kidney
Effects on heart
In case of emergency/overdose
Contact your doctor or nurse immediately if you have signs of infection, including a temperature above 37.5C or below 36C.
What other information should I know?
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. Bring this list each time you visit a doctor. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
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