Emetic potential of daily oral etoposide

Lawrence H. Einhorn, Mary J. Brames

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Background: Chemotherapeutic agents are classified by their degree of emetogenicity. Highly and moderately emetogenic agents require antiemetic prophylaxis for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Intravenous etoposide is listed as having low emetic potential. However, oral etoposide is categorized as having moderate emetogenicity. Daily oral etoposide is used in refractory germ cell cancer patients. We prospectively evaluated the emetic potential of oral etoposide in this patient population. Materials and methods: Between August 2003 and February 2006, 16 patients with refractory germ cell cancer received single-agent, daily oral etoposide 50 mg/M2 for 21 consecutive days every 4 weeks. All patients had progressed after cisplatin combination chemotherapy and had received high-dose chemotherapy with carboplatin plus etoposide (intravenously) with peripheral blood stem cell transplant. No patient received prophylactic antiemetics. Patients completed a six-question Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) antiemetic tool during each day of etoposide during the first 21-day course. Nausea intensity and duration were recorded. Number of emetic episodes and any antiemetic medications were recorded. Results: All 16 patients completed the six-question MASCC form. Eleven of 16 had no nausea or vomiting and two other patients had only minimal nausea, despite absence of any prophylactic antiemetics. Only two patients required antiemetic support. Two patients experienced emesis for a single episode. One patient had nausea on days 9-20 with a MASCC rating of 3-6, and one patient had continued mild nausea (MASCC rating 1-3) for all 21 days. Conclusions: Daily oral etoposide has a low probability of producing chemotherapy-induced nausea and/or vomiting and, in our opinion, does not require prophylactic antiemetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1262-1265
Number of pages4
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • Antiemetics
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Oral etoposide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Nursing(all)

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