Etoposide is indicated for treating small-cell lung cancer in combination with carboplatin or cisplatin.
Etoposide is used in treating solid malignancies, and is indicated for treating testicular cancers. It is used in combination therapy with ifosfamide and cisplatin.
Etoposide works by inhibiting the enzyme topoisomerase II. This enzyme is crucial for DNA replication, working to cleave and unwind DNA supercoils, and then to re-ligate them. This uncoiling is necessary for proper DNA replication, and by inhibiting this enzyme, cancer cell apoptosis is triggered.
By inhibiting topoisomerase II, etoposide leads to errors in DNA synthesis, leading to cancer cell apoptosis. Cancer cells rely on this enzyme more than healthy cells, since they divide more rapidly. Therefore, this causes errors in DNA synthesis and promotes apoptosis of the cancer cell.
A common side effect of etoposide is myelosuppression. This bone marrow suppression leads to decreased white blood cell counts, low red blood cell counts, and low platelet counts.
Another notable side effect of the chemotherapeutic agent, etoposide, is alopecia, or hair loss.
Blood pressure changes are another common side effect of etoposide and patients may develop hypotension while taking this medication. It should be noted there have been documented instances of hypertension occurring with this medication, too.
GI upset is a common side effect of etoposide therapy, and patients often experience profound nausea and vomiting.
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