Generic Name: vincristine sulfate
Product Name: Vincristine Sulfate Injection
Indication: What vincristine sulfate is used for
Vincristine sulfate belongs to a group of anticancer medicines called Vinca alkaloids. It is used for the treatment of various cancers. Vincristine stops the cancer cells from growing and eventually kills them.
Action: How vincristine sulfate works
The precise mechanism of action of vincristine sulfate remains under investigation. Vincristine appears to affect cell mitosis by interfering with microtubular proteins and causing an arrest of cell division during the metaphase. It is cell cycle phase specific.
Vincristine Sulfate Injection contains vincristine sulfate, mannitol and water for injections. It does not contain a preservative.
Dose advice: How to use vincristine sulfate
Before you are given Vincristine Sulfate Injection
When you must not be given it
Do not use Vincristine Sulfate Injection if:
- You have an allergy to vincristine or any of the ingredients listed here;
- You have an allergy to any of the Vinca Alkaloid medicines e.g. Vinblastine and Vindesine;
- You suffer from Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome. This is a type of hereditary nerve disease;
- You are receiving or have received radiation therapy.
If you are not sure whether any of these apply to you, check with your doctor.
Before you are given it
Tell your doctor if:
- You have any allergies to:
- Any other medicine;
- Any other substances, such as foods, preservatives or dyes;
- You are pregnant or intend to become pregnant;
- You are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed;
- You have or have had any medical conditions, especially the following:
- Kidney stones;
- Any infections;
- Liver disease or jaundice;
- Nerve or muscle disease.
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including any that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop.
Some medicines and vincristine may interfere with each other. These include:
- Medicines to treat gout e.g. allopurinol;
- Medicines to treat fungal infections e.g. itraconazole and voriconazole;
- Heart medicines e.g. nifedipine;
- Phenytoin, a medicine used to prevent seizures, fits or epilepsy;
- Medicines used to treat infections e.g. isoniazid, ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin and ofloxacin;
- Any other anti-cancer medicines e.g. methotrexate, doxorubicin, asparaginase and mitomycin-C.
In some cases, two different medicines may be used together by your doctor even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may change your dose.
Do not have any vaccinations (immunisations) without your doctor’s approval while you are being treated with vincristine, and for up to 12 months after you stop treatment with it. Vincristine may lower your body’s resistance to infection and there is a chance that you may get the infection the immunisation is meant to prevent.
In addition, other people living in your household should not take oral polio vaccine (Sabin) since there is a chance they could pass the polio virus on to you.
Your doctor will advise you about continuing to take other medicines while you are receiving Vincristine Sulfate Injection.
How Vincristine Sulfate Injection is given
This medicine is given as a slow injection into a vein. Sometimes, it is diluted and given as a long injection. Vincristine Sulfate Injection must only be given by a doctor or nurse.
Your doctor will decide what dose, how often and how long you will receive it. This depends on your condition and other factors, such as your weight, age, blood tests, how well your liver is working, and whether or not other medicines are being given at the same time.
If you are given too much (overdose)
This rarely happens as Vincristine Sulfate Injection is administered under the care of a highly trained doctor. However, if you are given too much vincristine, you may experience some of the effects listed under “Side Effects” below.
Your doctor has information on how to recognise and treat an overdose. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
While you are being given Vincristine Sulfate Injection
Things you must do
Vincristine Sulfate Injection can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of you getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
- If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection, or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination;
- Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black stools, blood in urine or stools or pinpoint red spots on your skin;
- Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss or toothpick. Your doctor or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums;
- Check with your doctor before having any dental work done;
- Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime;
- Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters;
- Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur;
- Be sure to keep all of your doctors’ appointments so that your progress can be checked;
- If you become pregnant while under vincristine treatment, tell your doctor immediately.
Things you must not do
- Do not have any immunisations or vaccinations without your doctor’s approval and for up to 12 months after you stopped treatment with it.
Schedule of vincristine sulfate
Vincristine Sulfate Injection is a Schedule 4 – prescription only medicine.
Side effects of vincristine sulfate
Tell your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are using vincristine. Like other medicines, vincristine can cause some side effects. If they occur, most are likely to be minor or temporary. However, some may be serious and need medical attention.
Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to answer any questions that you may have.
Do not be alarmed by this list of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them.
Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following. These are serious side effects. You may need urgent medical attention. Serious side effects are rare.
- Pain or redness at place of injection;
- An allergy may appear as an itchy rash, high temperature after the injection, swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat and/or difficulty in breathing;
- Effects on nerves and muscles. Vincristine sometimes affects nerves in the hands and feet. This may appear as numbness, tingling, pain or weakness in the fingertips. Other symptoms are loss of muscle control and reflexes, jaw pain, back pain, arm and leg pain, face pain, fits and coma;
- Bleeding disorders. Symptoms to look for are black, tarry stools; or blood in stools or urine; pinpoint red spots on skin and any unusual bleeding or bruising;
- Symptoms to look for are fever, chills, cough, hoarseness, sore throat and mouth ulcers.
Check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Dizzy or light-headed when getting up from lying or sitting position;
- Loss of feeling, hearing or taste;
- Tingling or burning sensation;
- Depression or agitation;
- Eyesight problems: blurred or double vision, temporary blindness;
- Trouble in sleeping, depression, nervousness, hallucinations and personality changes;
- Unusual perspiration;
- Increased frequency, difficulty or pain in passing urine, or incontinence;
- Impotence or reduced sexual drive;
- Constipation or cramps;
- Hair loss;
- Diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss;
- Inflamed gums or mouth ulcers;
- Muscle wasting;
- Jaw or throat pain;
- Bone, limb or back pain;
- Muscle aches;
- Increase in sunburn.
Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.
Some side effects may only be seen by your doctor.
For further information talk to your doctor.