Teniposide Side Effects and Warnings

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Teniposide, also prescribed as Vumon, is classified as an antineoplastic. It is an injectable medication used in combination with other drugs and medications to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and neuroblastoma. This medication interferes with cancer cell growth. As the patient continues to take this medication, the cancer cells will eventually die. This medication can only be given under the immediate supervision of or by a medical doctor.

How is this Medication Used?

This medication can only be given by a medical doctor or under her immediate and direct supervision. It is administered into a vein by slow injection over a minimum thirty to sixty minute period of time. Most patients will receive this medication one to two times a week. If the patient experiences dizziness during administration, the injection may have to be administered slower or stopped altogether. The patient’s body size, medical condition, and how well they are responding to this medication will determine their individual dosage. This medication can severaly damage muscle and skin if this medication leaks into it during an injection.

Side Effects

The common side effects of teniposide include nausea and vomiting, injection site pain and redness, diarrhea, and drowsiness. For some patients, the nausea and vomiting can be severe, however, anti-nausea medications and simple lifestyle changes can help to control these. Patients can also lose their hair temporarily, but for most patients it will grow back after this medication is stopped. Mouth and throat pain and sores can also occur.

Serious side effects include feeling faint or dizzy, being abnormally weak or tired, having stools that are bloody/tarry/black, and coughing up blood. Rare, serious side effects include mental or mood changes, breathing slowly or shallowly, and severe abdominal pain.


This medication could be contraindicated if the patient has certain medication conditions, including:

  • Allergies, specifically to this medication or polyoxyethylated castor oil
  • Current infections
  • Liver problems
  • Blood disorders
  • Low blood proteins
  • Certain viral illnesses
  • Kidney problems
  • Down syndrome

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs interact with this one, including:

  • Live vaccines
  • Blood thinners
  • Drugs that interact with alcohol
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and salicylates
  • Tolbutamide
  • Sulfonamide antibiotics
  • Methotrexate
  • Certain antihistamines
  • Cough and cold medications
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Psychiatric medications
  • Sleep medications
  • Narcotic pain medications
  • Anti-anxiety medications

Warnings and Precautions

This medication can cause specific severe blood and bone marrow disorders. This can result in the body losing its ability to fight infection or stop bleeding. A serious allergic reaction is also possible with this medication. If this medication touches the eyes or skin, it must be immediately washed away with soap and water. If it is in the eye, it must be thoroughly flushed and then the patient must get immediate medical attention.

Patients must avoid becoming cut, bruised, or injured. They must also avoid those with contagious diseases and those who have had a polio vaccine recently. Patients must not get any vaccines or immunizations themselves unless their doctor gives permission. Pregnancy, becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding must be avoided completely. Alcohol must be avoided, and those who have an alcohol dependence should speak to their doctor before starting this medication because this medication contains alcohol.


RxList. (2010). Vumon. Retrieved on September 9, 2010 from RxList: https://www.rxlist.com/vumon-drug.htm

MayoClinic.com. (2010). Teniposide (Intravenous Route). Retrieved on September 9, 2010 from MayoClinic.com: https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR601307