People who have certain types of cancer may receive a medication called etoposide. This prescription drug comes as a capsule that is taken by mouth or as an injection that is given slowly into a vein. The capsules are approved for treating small cell lung cancer, while the injections are approved for treating small cell lung cancer and testicular cancer.
What Is Etoposide?Etoposide is a prescription medication approved to treat certain types of cancer. It belongs to a group of chemotherapy medicines known as plant alkaloids, which are made from certain types of plants. Etoposide is a podophyllotoxin derivative, meaning it is derived from the Mayapple tree (Podophyllum peltatum).
Etoposide comes as a capsule that is taken by mouth and as an injection (Toposar®) that is given intravenously (by IV). Etoposide capsules are approved to treat small cell lung cancer. The injection is approved to treat small cell lung cancer and refractory testicular tumors (cancer of the testicles that has not adequately responded to other treatment).
The medication is also available in phosphate salt form as Etopophos® (etoposide phosphate), which is given by IV. Etopophos is approved to treat small cell lung cancer and refractory testicular cancer.
Etoposide is sometimes referred to as VP-16. It used to be available as the brand-name product Vepesid®; however, Vepesid is no longer being manufactured.
(Click What Is Etoposide Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)