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What Is Etoposide Used For?

The prescription drug etoposide is used to treat certain types of cancer. This chemotherapy medication is specifically approved for use in adults who have small cell lung cancer or testicular cancer. There are also a number of possible off-label (unapproved) uses for etoposide, such as treating bone cancer, cervical cancer, and brain cancer.

An Overview of Uses for Etoposide

Etoposide is a prescription chemotherapy medication. It comes in the form of a capsule that is taken by mouth and as an injection (Toposar®) that is given intravenously (by IV). Etoposide is also available as etoposide phosphate (Etopophos®), which is the salt form of the drug that is given by IV. The body converts etoposide phosphate into etoposide.
Etoposide capsules and etoposide injection are approved to treat small cell lung cancer. The IV forms are also approved to treat testicular tumors (cancer of the testicles) that have not adequately responded to previous treatment. All forms of etoposide are used in combination with other chemotherapy medicines.

Using Etoposide for the Treatment of Small Cell Lung Cancer

Small cell lung cancer is one of two general types of lung cancer. The other type is called non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer occurs less often than the non-small cell type. It rarely occurs in people who do not smoke.
Small cell lung cancer is an aggressive cancer, and tends to grow and spread very quickly throughout the body. In most cases, the cancer has spread beyond the lungs before it is detected, and therefore cannot be treated with surgery. Instead, chemotherapy is the usual form of treatment. Radiation treatment is also often recommended in addition to chemotherapy.
(Click Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment for more information on treatment options for this condition.)
Etoposide is a first-line medication for the treatment of small cell lung cancer. This means it can be one of the initial treatments used after someone is diagnosed with the condition. It is typically used as part of a treatment regimen that includes platinum-based chemotherapy medicines, such as cisplatin or carboplatin.
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Etoposide Drug Information

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