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vinBLAStine

( Vin-BLAST-een )
Other Name(s): Velban® (multiple brands available)
Appearance: Clear, colourless solution for injection

Medication Information Sheet
vinBLAStine (Vin-BLAST-een)
This document provides general information about your medication. It does not replace the advice of your health care professional. Always discuss your therapy with your health care professional and refer to the package insert for more details.

Other Name: Velban®

Appearance:
Clear, colourless solution for injection

What is this medication for?
  • For treating certain lymphomas, cancer of the bladder, testes, Kaposi's sarcoma, or other cancers.
What should I do before I have this medication?
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you have / had significant medical condition(s), especially if you have / had liver disease, nerve problems (numbness/tingling of fingers or toes), or any allergies.
  • People who have cancer or leukemia are at a higher risk of developing other cancers/leukemias (usually some years later) or blood clots. Some cancer medications, such as vinBLAStine, may increase these risks, especially if used for a prolonged period of time. You should discuss any concerns with your doctor.
How will this medication affect sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding?
  • Vinblastine can harm the unborn baby and should not be used by pregnant women.
  • If there is ANY chance that you or your partner may become pregnant, you and your partner together must:  ► Use 2 effective forms of birth control at the same time while taking this drug. Do not take birth control pills if you have breast cancer. Keep using birth control until 6 months after the last dose (general recommendation). Discuss with your healthcare team.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant.
  • Do not breastfeed while taking this drug.
  • Effects on Fertility: Probable
How is this medication given?
  • This drug is only given by injection into a vein.

     

     

What else do I need to know while on this medication?
  • This medication can interact with other medications and can result in the treatment not working as well or cause severe side effects.

  • Make sure your health care team knows about all your medications (prescription, over-the-counter, herbals and supplements). Check with your health care team before starting or stopping any of them.

  • Do not eat or drink grapefruit, starfruit, Seville oranges or their juices (or products that contain these) while on this treatment. They may increase side effects.

  • For mild aches and pain or fever:

    • If you feel unwell, take your temperature before taking any medications for pain or fever. They may hide a fever. 
       
    • You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) tablets. Ask your health care team about the right dose for you. 
       
    • Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®) or aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, ASA), including low dose aspirin for heart conditions, may increase your chance of bleeding. Talk to your health care team before you start or stop these medications.
       
    • Talk to your health care team or go to the closest emergency room right away if you have a fever.  See the Fever pamphlet for more information.
What are the side effects of this medication?

The following side effects have been seen in people using vinBLAStine with other chemotherapy drugs, so some of these effects may also be related to chemotherapy.

The following side effects are common or severe. You may not have all of the side effects, while others may occur. Discuss with your doctor if you have any unusual or bothersome symptoms.
 

Side effects and what to do When to contact doctor?
More Common Side Effects

Pains or cramps in the belly

  • Treat constipation or diarrhea.
  • May be due to other causes; check with your doctor or nurse if pain is severe, does not go away or worsens.

 

Contact your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Hair thinning or loss 

  • Use a gentle soft brush; care should be taken with hair sprays, bleaches, dyes and perms.
  • Your hair usually grows back after your treatment ends, but the texture or colour may change.

Constipation (may rarely be severe)

  • Eat a balanced diet with fibres such whole grains, fruit and raw vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Try light exercise regularly.
  • Less commonly, constipation may be very severe, with bloating and severe belly pain.  If this occurs, seek medical help right away.
  • Speak to your doctor if no bowel movement for 3 or more days.
  • Also see Constipation Pamphlet.*
Contact your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Metallic taste in mouth

Contact your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Mouth sores

  • Maintain good mouth hygiene. Regular teeth brushing with a soft toothbrush or Toothette®, and regular use of alcohol-free mouthwashes.
  • Instead, try a homemade mouthwash: 
    Mix 1 teaspoonful of baking soda and 1 teaspoonful of salt in 4 cups (1L) of water.
  • Avoid hot, spicy, acidic, hard or crunchy foods.
  • Check with your doctor or nurse as soon as you notice sores in mouth/lips or pain with swallowing. Your doctor may prescribe a prescription mouthwash to relieve mouth sores and prevent infection.
  • Also see Mouth Care pamphlet.*
Contact your health care team as soon as possible

Unusual bleeding or bruising

You may have black stools, cough up blood, blood in your urine, purple or red dots on your skin or bleeding that will not stop. 

(Continued on next page)

 

Fever, chills, infection

You have a fever if your temperature taken in your mouth (oral temperature) is:

  • 38.3°C (100.9°F) or higher at any time OR
  • 38.0°C (100.4°F) or higher for at least one hour.

While you are getting chemotherapy treatments:

  • Keep a digital thermometer at home and take your temperature if you feel hot or unwell (for example, chills).
  • Avoid taking medications that treat a fever before you take your temperature (for example, Tylenol®, acetaminophen, Advil® or ibuprofen) as they may hide a fever.
  • Do not eat or drink anything hot or cold right before taking your temperature.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Check with your doctor before getting any vaccines, surgeries or visiting your dentist.

If you have a fever, talk to your health care team or go to the closest emergency room. 
See our Neutropenia (Low white blood cell count) pamphlet for more information.

 

Get emergency medical help right away

Nausea and vomiting (generally mild)

  • Drink clear fluids and avoid large meals. Get fresh air and rest.
  • Limit spicy, fried foods or foods with a strong smell.
  • Take anti-nausea drug(s) exactly as directed by your doctor. It is easier to prevent nausea than to treat it.
  • Contact your doctor if nausea lasts more than 48 hours or vomiting for more than 24 hours.
  • Also see Nausea & Vomiting pamphlet.*
Contact your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Effects on nerves (tingling, numb toes or fingers)

  • May slowly return to normal after treatment ends.
  • Contact your doctor or nurse if you have trouble doing up buttons, writing, picking up small objects, have pain, or trouble with movement.
  • This drug may rarely affect the nerves in your head/face, leading to weakness or changes in senses such as hearing. Contact your doctor if this occurs.
Contact your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Side effects and what to do When to contact doctor?
Less Common Side Effects, but may be Severe
Blockage of an artery (blood vessel) in your heart, brain, chest, belly, or limbs; this may result in stroke (sudden loss of vision, speech, or the use of your limb(s)) or heart attack (chest pain, shortness of breath), or pain in chest, belly or limb Get emergency medical help right away

Allergic reaction (fever, severe rash, itchiness, swollen face, lip or tongue, chest or throat tightness; may occur during or shortly after the drug is given)

Get emergency medical help right away

Rapid killing of cancer cells when you start treatment may lead to build up of cell waste products

  • If mild, this may cause gout, with joint pains, but if severe, may cause fevers, kidney failure, confusion and be life-threatening.
  • You MUST take the preventive medicines given by your doctor AND
  • Drink plenty of fluids (6-8 glasses per day) and void (urinate) frequently.
Get emergency medical help right away

Joint, muscle or jaw pain

  • Take painkiller(s) as directed, if given to you by your doctor.
  • Otherwise, take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) tablets as needed for mild aches and pains. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the right dose for you.
  • Rest often, but may try light exercise.
Contact your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Pain, burning, redness, or swelling on skin where drug was injected

  • Let your healthcare team know right away when this happens, since this drug can harm or irritate tissues if it leaks from the vein during injection.

Lung problems
(increased cough, breathing problems, chest pain, coughing blood)

Get emergency medical help right away

Seizures

Get emergency medical help right away

Salt imbalances
(muscle twitching, severe weakness or cramping, confusion, irregular heartbeat), may be severe (general body swelling with confusion)

Get emergency medical help right away

For more links on how to manage your symptoms go to www.cancercareontario.ca/symptoms.

The information set out in the medication information sheets, regimen information sheets, and symptom management information (for patients) contained in the Drug Formulary (the "Formulary") is intended to be used by health professionals and patients for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or side effects of a certain drug, nor should it be used to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for a given condition.

A patient should always consult a healthcare provider if he/she has any questions regarding the information set out in the Formulary. The information in the Formulary is not intended to act as or replace medical advice and should not be relied upon in any such regard. All uses of the Formulary are subject to clinical judgment and actual prescribing patterns may not follow the information provided in the Formulary.