How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Teniposide belongs to the group of cancer-fighting medications known as antineoplastics. It kills cancer cells by interfering with the genetic material DNA, which is necessary for their growth and reproduction. Teniposide is used alone or in combination with other antineoplastic medications to treat neuroblastoma (cancer of the nerves), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of the lymph cells), and acute lymphocytic leukemia-ALL (cancer of the white blood cells).

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop receiving this medication without consulting your doctor.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Teniposide is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada and is no longer available under any brand names. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended dose and dosing schedule of teniposide varies according to the specific condition being treated, the response to therapy, and the other medications or treatments being used. The dose is injected into a vein over a minimum of 30 minutes.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications.

Teniposide is available as an injectable preparation. It is injected into a vein through a specially prepared site on your skin. Teniposide is always given under the direct supervision of your doctor. Very careful handling of this medication is required, which is always done in a hospital or similar setting with access to sterile equipment for preparation.

As well as interfering with the genetic material DNA of cancer cells, teniposide can interfere with some of your normal cells. This can cause a number of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and mouth sores. You will receive medication to help control nausea and vomiting. Keep track of any side effects and report them to your doctor as suggested in the section, "What side effects are possible with this medication?"

It is important this medication be given exactly as recommended by your doctor. If you miss an appointment to receive teniposide, contact your doctor as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.

This medication is stored at room temperature.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Teniposide should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to teniposide or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • has severely reduced levels of white blood cells or platelets
  • has severely reduced liver or kidney function

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who receives this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people receiving this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • temporary loss of hair

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • abdominal pain
  • confusion
  • headache
  • skin rash
  • sores in mouth or on lips
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • yellow eyes or skin

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • black or tarry stools or blood in urine
  • chills or fever
  • cough or hoarseness
  • difficulty breathing, tightness in chest, or wheezing
  • facial swelling
  • flushing
  • hives or rash
  • increased heart rate
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • lower back or side pain with fever or chills
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • sweating
  • swelling of the arms and legs
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are receiving this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergic reactions: Allergic reactions, including difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat and mouth, can occur with this medication. If you experience any of these symptoms, get immediate attention.

Blood clotting: This medication can reduce the number of platelet cells in the blood. Platelets help the blood to clot, and a shortage could make you bleed more easily. Tell your doctor of any signs that your blood is not clotting as quickly as usual. Such symptoms may include black and tarry stools, blood in the urine, easy bruising, or cuts that won't stop bleeding.

Damage to cells: This medication can potentially cause cancer, birth defects, and temporary or permanent fertility problems.

Infection: As well as killing cancer cells, this medication can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). Avoid contact with people who have contagious infections and tell your doctor if you begin to notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, or if you have an existing infection before starting treatment with teniposide.

Kidney or liver disease: The side effects of teniposide may be increased in people with kidney or liver disease. People with kidney or liver disease should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: There are no adequate studies of using this medication during pregnancy. Women who could become pregnant should used appropriate birth control methods while receiving this medication. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if teniposide passes into breast milk. Women who are receiving this medication should not breast-feed.

Children: This medication contains benzyl alcohol, which has been shown to cause severe side effects in newborns.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between teniposide and any of the following:

  • barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital, butalbital, pentobarbital)
  • BCG vaccine
  • clarithromycin
  • echinacea
  • ketoconazole
  • leflunomide
  • live vaccines (e.g., yellow fever, BCG, measles - mumps - rubella [MMR])
  • natalizumab
  • nefazodone
  • phenytoin
  • pimecrolimus
  • protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir)
  • quinidine
  • sodium salicylate
  • sulfamethiazole
  • tacrolimus
  • tolbutamide

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: