Precautions and Warnings With Vincristine

Vincristine may increase your risk for kidney problems, infertility, and other complications. To help minimize your risk for these and other problems, talk to your healthcare provider about your medical history before starting treatment. Other warnings and precautions with this chemotherapy drug apply to people taking certain medications and those who have certain allergies.


What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving vincristine sulfate (Vincasar PFS®) if you have:
  • Liver disease, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver failure
  • A disorder of the nerves, brain, or spinal cord, including a rare genetic condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) syndrome
  • A muscular disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Received radiation treatment
  • Leukemia in your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Vincristine Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using this medication include the following:
  • Vincristine should only be given by a healthcare provider who has experience using it. The drug has caused death when given as an injection into the spine (an intrathecal injection). It is only approved for intravenous (IV) use and should not be given in other ways.
  • This medication has been reported to cause kidney problems due to high levels of uric acid. Your healthcare provider will order frequent blood tests to monitor the level of uric acid in your blood, especially in the first three to four weeks of treatment. You may also need to take medicines to prevent this complication.
  • This medication can decrease sperm count and cause a woman to stop menstruating, which could cause infertility. This side effect may be permanent in some people.
  • Vincristine is not effective for the treatment of leukemia in the central nervous system, as it does not cross into the brain.
  • Let your healthcare provider know right away if you experience burning, redness, or swelling around the injection site. This could be a sign of a potentially serious situation (extravasation) that occurs when the medication leaks outside the vein. If this happens, your healthcare provider will stop your dose and give you appropriate treatment to prevent any damage to your skin and surrounding area from the leaking medication.
  • Vincristine can cause nerve problems (neuropathy), which may get worse the longer you receive treatment. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have a condition affecting your nerves and muscles, as you may need to be monitored more closely or may need a lower vincristine dosage. Also, let your healthcare provider know immediately if you develop signs of nerve problems during treatment, such as:
    • Numbness, tingling, pricking, or burning sensations in your hands or feet
    • Changes in how sensitive your skin is to touch, heat, cold, or pain
    • Joint or muscle pain
    • Muscle weakness or spasms
    • Decreased reflexes
    • Pain in your face, jaw, or head
    • Dizziness or faintness, especially when rising from a seated or lying position
    • Difficulty walking or speaking
    • Constipation
    • An inability to urinate.
  • Vincristine can cause low blood cell counts, especially low white blood cells, which will increase your risk for developing infections. Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood cell counts before each dose. If your white blood cell levels become too low, or you have an infection, you may need to miss a dose.
  • Serious lung problems have been reported in people receiving treatment with vincristine, especially when it was given in combination with another chemotherapy medicine known as mitomycin (Mutamycin®). In some cases, the lung problems required treatment. Let your healthcare provider know if you experience shortness of breath, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. You may need to be treated for your symptoms.
  • This medication can cause severe irritation, and possible damage, if it comes in contact with the eye. If accidental contact does occur, the eye should be immediately washed thoroughly.
  • Vincristine is a pregnancy Category D medication, which means it may cause fetal harm if used during pregnancy (see Vincasar PFS and Pregnancy).
  • It is unknown if vincristine passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to using the drug (see Vincasar PFS and Breastfeeding).
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Vincristine Drug Information

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