Leukemia Home > What Is Vincristine Used For?
Vincristine may also be used as part of a combination therapy to treat certain other types of cancer. Combination therapy is the use of more than one medication at a time. Specifically, vincristine is approved for use in combination with other anticancer medicines to treat the following types of cancer:
- Hodgkin's disease (also called Hodgkin's lymphoma), a cancer that begins in lymph tissue
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph tissue
- Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that begins in the muscles
- Neuroblastoma, a cancer that begins in nerve tissue and usually occurs in infants and young children
- Wilms' tumor, a type of kidney cancer that usually occurs in children.
Vincristine belongs to a group of medicines known as vinca alkaloids. Vinca alkaloids are also called antimicrotubule agents because they affect microtubules, proteins within cells that help cells divide and multiply.
Vincristine works by binding to tubulin, a protein that makes up microtubules. When bound to tubulin, it alters the structure of microtubules, preventing them from functioning normally. As a result, the altered microtubules cannot help cells divide. This stops cell growth and causes the cells to die.
Vincristine can kill both cancer cells and healthy cells, which is what causes many of the dangerous side effects. However, it has a greater effect on cells that rapidly multiply. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by this medication.