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How It Works

Vincristine is a plant-based compound and is classified as an alkylating agent. It causes cell death by interfering with the way genetic material (DNA) in the cell multiplies.

Vincristine is only available as an intravenous (IV) medicine. The type and extent of a disease determines the exact dose and schedule of administering this medicine.

Why It Is Used

Vincristine is effective against many forms of cancer, including:

  • Acute leukemia.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma.
  • Neuroblastoma.
  • Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

How Well It Works

Vincristine is effective against many forms of cancer. It is usually used in combination with other chemotherapy medicines.

Side Effects

Side effects are common with vincristine and can include:

  • Decreased white blood cell and platelet counts.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Temporary taste changes.
  • Hair loss (alopecia).
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy).
  • Cessation of menstruation (amenorrhea), early menopause, and decreased sperm count (azoospermia).

Women who take this medicine may experience menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Vincristine should be administered only under the supervision of a medical oncologist.

If vincristine leaks into the tissue around the vein, it can damage the tissue in that area. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you notice any stinging or burning around the vein while the medicine is being given.

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after taking vincristine. Discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment with this drug.

Vincristine can cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)Click here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDouglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Last RevisedMarch 29, 2012

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