Vinblastine is a chemotherapy medicine that is used to treat certain types of cancer.
It is also used to treat other conditions, such as Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis.
How is vinblastine given?
It is given by slow injection into a vein (intravenously or IV) through a cannula
, a central venous access device
, an implantable port
or a PICC line
What are the side effects of vinblastine?
Bone marrow suppression
There will be a temporary reduction in how well your child’s bone marrow works. This means he or she may become anaemic, bruise or bleed more easily than usual, and have a higher risk of infection. Your child’s blood counts will be checked regularly to see how the bone marrow is working. Please tell your doctor if your child seems unusually tired, has bruising or bleeding or any signs of infection, especially a high temperature.
Your child may become constipated. This can generally be helped by drinking lots of fluids and eating a high fibre diet. Sometimes the doctor may prescribe medicines to stimulate your child’s bowel function.
Nausea and vomiting
If experienced, nausea and vomiting is often mild but anti-sickness medicines can be used to reduce or prevent these symptoms. Please tell your doctor or nurse if your child's sickness is not controlled or persists.
Loss of appetite
It is possible that your child’s appetite may decrease while having treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s diet, please ask to speak to one of the dietitians.
Sometimes vinblastine may cause jaw pain or difficulty in swallowing. This is because of the effect of vinblastine on the cranial nerve, which runs down the side of the face. These effects are temporary and usually wear off gradually once treatment is finished.
Numbness, tingling or aches and pains
This can happen because of the effect of vinblastine on your child’s nervous system. Your child may complain of aches and pains in their legs. Please tell your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. These side effects are temporary and usually wear off a few months after treatment has finished.
Your child may lose all of their hair or it may become thinner. This is temporary and their hair will grow back once the treatment has finished.
Please tell your doctor or nurse if your child has diarrhoea that is not controlled or persists. It is important that your child drinks lots of fluids.
Vinblastine and interactions with other medicines
Some medicines can react with vinblastine, altering how well it works. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicine, including medicines on prescription from your family doctor (GP), medicines bought from a pharmacy (chemist) or any herbal or complementary medicines.
Important information you should know about vinblastine
If vinblastine leaks into the tissues underneath your child’s skin, they can damage the tissue in this area. If it is given through a cannula and your child complains of stinging or burning around the cannula, please tell your doctor or nurse immediately.
If it is given through a central venous access device or implantable port and your child complains of pain around their chest or neck, please tell your doctor or nurse immediately.
If this drug is given through a central venous catheter or implantable port and your child complains of pain around their chest or neck, please tell your doctor or nurse immediately.
Last reviewed by Great Ormond Street Hospital: May 2010
Ref: 2010F0686 © GOSH NHS Trust May 2010
Compiled by the Pharmacy Department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group.
Please read this information in conjunction with any patient information leaflet provided by the manufacturer. However, please note that this information explains about the use of medicines in children and young people so may differ from the manufacturer’s information.
Each person reacts differently to medicines so your child will not necessarily suffer every side effect mentioned. This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.