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Vincristine is a chemotherapy drug used for the treatment of various types of cancer. It may used as a treatment on its own or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. It is most commonly used in the treatment of leukaemia, lymphoma, sarcoma, breast and small cell lung cancer.
It is a colourless fluid when dissolved from a powder.
It is given as an injection (intravenous) into a peripheral cannula or via a central line.
The side effects mentioned below may not affect everyone, as each patient's;s reaction to chemotherapy is different. It will also depend on how many chemotherapy drugs you are receiving. If you experience any side effects that you think are related to your chemotherapy, please discuss them with your oncology doctor or chemotherapy nurse.
Vincristine causes constipation. You will be advised to maintain a high fibre and high fluid diet. You may need to take laxatives. Inform your doctor or nurse if you experience this symptom.
These can include numbness of the hands or feet, headaches, convulsions, tingling of the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy) and loss of deep tendon reflexes. It is important to inform your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. If you continue to feel sick it is important to inform your doctor. For more information on peripheral neuropathy, please see our factsheet.
Vincristine can make you feel sick nausea or to to be sick vomit . It may occur a few hours after you receive your first dose of treatment and can last for a number of days. Your doctor will prescribe some medications to prevent this anti-emetics .
You may develop a sore mouth or ulcers due to your chemotherapy. You will be prescribed some mouthwashes. Inform your doctor or nurse if your mouth becomes sore or you develop ulcers. You may also experience some taste changes, which will resolve after you finish your treatment.
You may feel very tired. This can last for a few months after your treatment. Inform your doctor or nurse of how you are feeling.
You may loose all your hair or it may just thin out. This usually happens after your first course of chemotherapy. This is temporary and your hair will grow back.
Vincristine can cause some changes to your kidneys. You will have regular blood tests taken to monitor your kidney function. It can lower one of the chemicals in your blood called sodium. This can cause seizures. If this occurs you may be put on a fluid restriction to help your sodium level get back to normal.
You will be more prone to infection as vincristine affects your white cell production from the bone marrow. This effect usually occurs about 10-14 days after your chemotherapy. You will have blood tests to check your levels before every chemotherapy dose to ensure your blood levels have returned to normal. Occasionally your treatment may be delayed until your blood levels come back to normal. If you notice any signs of infection visit your doctor for assessment.
Vincristine can also affect the production of platelets, which can cause bleeding or bruising. Inform your doctor if you notice any unexplained bleeding or bruising.
You may feel lethargic and breathless due to a reduction in your red cells caused by vincristine. Inform your doctor if you are feeling these effects.
If Diarrhoea occurs it can be easily controlled with medicine. It is important to drink plenty of fluid if you experience diarrhoea and to inform your doctor or nurse.
It is important to discuss this with your doctor as vincristine may affect your fertility.
It is important to use a reliable form of contraception while you are on treatment and for at least two years after your treatment has completed. It is not advised to get pregnant or father a child while on treatment as the drugs may affect the foetus.
It is important to inform your doctor of any medications that you are taking, including over the counter medications or herbal drugs as they can interfere with some chemotherapy drugs.
National Cancer Helpline
Freefone 1 800 200 700
Talk to a specialist nurse
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