Vindesine (Eldisine®)

Vindesine (Eldisine®) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat leukaemia, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma. It may also be used to treat other cancers.

It is best to read this information with our general information about chemotherapy and the type of cancer you have.

Vindesine is usually given into a vein. You usually have it as an outpatient. Your cancer doctor or nurse will tell you how often you will have it.

Like all chemotherapy drugs, vindesine can cause side effects. Some of the side effects can be serious, so it is important to read the detailed information below.

Your healthcare team can give you advice on how to manage any side effects. Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you:

  • have a temperature
  • feel unwell
  • have severe side effects, including any we do not mention here.

Rarely, side effects may be life-threatening. Your cancer doctor or nurse can explain the risk of these side effects to you.

If you need medical attention for any reason other than cancer, always tell the healthcare staff that you are having this treatment.

What is Vindesine (Eldisine®)?

Vindesine (Eldisine®) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat different cancers, including leukaemia, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma.

This information should ideally be read with our general information about chemotherapy and the type of cancer you have.


How vindesine is given

You will usually have vindesine in the chemotherapy day unit. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you. During treatment, you usually see a cancer doctor, a chemotherapy nurse or a specialist nurse. This is who we mean when we mention doctor or nurse in this information.

Before or on the day of treatment, a nurse or person trained to take blood (phlebotomist) will take a blood sample from you. This is to check that it is okay for you to have chemotherapy.

You will also see a doctor or nurse before you have chemotherapy. They will ask you how you have been. If your blood results are alright on the day of your treatment, the pharmacist will prepare your chemotherapy. Your nurse will tell you when your treatment is likely to be ready.

Vindesine is always given into a vein. Your nurse will give you anti-sickness drugs and sometimes a steroid as an injection into a vein. They will give you the drugs and chemotherapy through one of the following:

  • a short, thin tube (cannula) that the nurse puts into a vein in your arm or hand
  • a fine tube that goes under the skin of your chest and into a vein close by (central line)
  • a fine tube that is put into a vein in your arm and goes up into a vein in your chest (PICC line).

Your nurse will give you vindesine as a drip (infusion) into your cannula or line over a short period of time.


When the chemotherapy is being given

Some people might experience the following side effects while they are having the chemotherapy:

Pain along the vein

If you have this, tell your nurse straight away. They will check your drip site and slow the drip to ease the pain.

The drug leaks outside the vein

If this happens when you’re having vindesine, it can damage the tissue around the vein. This is called extravasation. Tell the nurse straight away if you have any stinging, pain, redness or swelling around the vein. Extravasation is not common, but if it happens it’s important that it’s dealt with quickly.

If you get any of these symptoms after you get home, contact the doctor or nurse straight away on the number they gave you.

Breathlessness

When vindesine is given with another drug called mitomycin C, it can cause you to feel short of breath. This is very rare. Breathing changes can happen during infusion, immediately after the infusion or at any time up to two weeks after the infusion.

If you have any of the following after having vindesine, always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • wheezing
  • a cough
  • a fever
  • breathlessness.

You should also let them know if any existing breathing problems get worse. If necessary, they can arrange for you to have tests to check your lungs.

If you become short of breath or have difficulty breathing, contact the hospital immediately.


Your course of chemotherapy

You have chemotherapy as a course of several sessions (cycles) of treatment over a few months. Your doctor or nurse will tell you more about this and the number of cycles you are likely to have.

Going home

The nurse or pharmacist will give you anti-sickness drugs to take at home. They may also give you other tablets, which they will talk to you about. Take all your tablets exactly as explained.


Possible side effects of vindesine

We explain the most common side effects of vindesine here. But we don’t include all the rare ones that are unlikely to affect you.

You may get some of the side effects we mention, but you are very unlikely to get all of them. If you are having other chemotherapy drugs as well, you may have some side effects that we don’t list here. Always tell your doctor or nurse about the side effects you have. Your doctor can prescribe drugs to help control some of these.

It is very important to take the drugs exactly as your nurse or pharmacist has explained. This means they will be more likely to work better. Your nurse will give you advice about managing your side effects. After your treatment is over, the side effects will start to improve.

Serious and life-threatening side effects

Sometimes cancer drugs can result in very serious side effects, which rarely may be life-threatening. Your cancer doctor and nurse can explain the risk of these side effects to you.

Contact the hospital

Your nurse will give you telephone numbers for the hospital. You can call them if you feel unwell or need advice at any time of the day or night. Save these numbers in your phone or keep them somewhere safe.

More information about this drug

We’re not able to list every side effect for this treatment here, particularly the rarer ones. For more detailed information, you can visit the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC).

Risk of infection

Vindesine can reduce the number of white blood cells in your blood. This will make you more likely to get an infection. When the number of white blood cells is low, it’s called neutropenia. Your nurse can tell you when your white blood cells are likely to be at their lowest.

Contact the hospital straight away on the contact number you’ve been given if:

  • your temperature goes over 37.5°C (99.5F)
  • you suddenly feel unwell, even with a normal temperature
  • you have symptoms of an infection.

Symptoms of an infection include:

  • feeling shivery
  • a sore throat
  • a cough
  • diarrhoea
  • needing to pass urine often.

It is important to follow any specific advice your cancer treatment team gives you.

The number of white blood cells usually increases steadily and returns to normal before your next chemotherapy. You will have a blood test before having more chemotherapy. If your number of white blood cells is still low, your doctor may delay your treatment for a short time.

Bruising and bleeding

Vindesine can reduce the number of platelets in your blood. Platelets are cells that help the blood to clot. Tell your doctor if you have any bruising or bleeding you can’t explain. This includes nosebleeds, bleeding gums, blood spots or rashes on the skin. Some people may need a drip to give them extra platelets.

Anaemia (low number of red blood cells)

Vindesine can reduce the number of red blood cells in your blood. These cells carry oxygen around the body. If the number of red blood cells is low, you may be tired and breathless. Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel like this. If you are very anaemic, you may need a drip to give you extra red blood cells (blood transfusion).

Numb or tingling hands or feet

These symptoms are caused by the effect of vindesine on nerves. It’s called peripheral neuropathy. You may also find it hard to fasten buttons or do other fiddly tasks.

Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms. They sometimes need to lower the dose of the drug. The symptoms usually improve slowly after treatment finishes, but in some people they may never go away. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about this.

Hair loss

Your hair will thin or you may lose all the hair from your head. This usually starts after your first or second cycle of chemotherapy. It is almost always temporary and your hair will grow back after chemotherapy ends. It is important to cover your head to protect your scalp when you are out in the sun.

Your nurse can give you advice about coping with hair loss.

Skin changes

Chemotherapy may affect your skin. Vindesine can cause a rash, which may be itchy. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what to expect. If your skin feels dry, try using an unperfumed moisturising cream every day. Always tell your doctor or nurse about any skin changes. They can give you advice and may prescribe creams or medicines to help. Any changes to your skin are usually temporary and improve when treatment finishes.

Feeling sick

This may happen in the first few days after chemotherapy. Your doctor will prescribe anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs to help prevent or control sickness. Take the drugs exactly as your nurse or pharmacist explains to you. It’s easier to prevent sickness than to treat it after it has started.

If you still feel sick or are vomiting, contact the hospital as soon as possible. They can give you advice and change the anti-sickness drug to one that works better for you.

Constipation and abdominal pain

Vindesine may make you constipated and cause tummy pain. Drinking at least two litres of fluids (three and a half pints) every day will help. Try to eat more foods that contain fibre (such as fruit, vegetables and wholemeal bread) and do some regular, gentle exercise.

If you haven’t had a bowel motion for two days, contact the hospital for advice. Your doctor can prescribe laxatives to help you. Always contact the hospital straight away if you are constipated and have tummy pain or are being sick.

Sore mouth

Your mouth may become sore and you may get ulcers. This can make you more likely to get an infection in your mouth. Gently clean your teeth or dentures every morning and night and after meals. Use a soft-bristled or children’s toothbrush. Your nurse might ask you to rinse your mouth regularly or use mouthwashes. It’s important to follow any advice you are given and to drink plenty of fluids.

Tell your nurse or doctor if you have any problems with your mouth. They can prescribe medicines to prevent or treat mouth infections and reduce any soreness.

Aching or pain in joints and muscles

This can happen a few hours after having vindesine. It doesn't usually last long and your doctor can prescribe painkillers to help. Sometimes, you may notice some jaw pain. Let your nurse or doctor know if you have this.

Tiredness

Feeling very tired is a common side effect. It’s often worse towards the end of treatment and for some weeks afterwards. Try to pace yourself and get as much rest as you need. It helps to balance this with some gentle exercise, such as short walks. If you feel sleepy, don’t drive or operate machinery.

It is important to tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you feel ill or have severe side effects. This includes any we don’t mention here.


Other information about vindesine

Blood clot risk

Cancer increases the chances of a blood clot (thrombosis) and chemotherapy can add to this. A clot can cause symptoms such as:

  • pain, redness and swelling in a leg
  • breathlessness
  • chest pain.

Contact your doctor straight away if you have any of these symptoms. A blood clot is serious but your doctor can treat it with drugs that thin the blood. Your doctor or nurse can give you more information.

Other medicines

Some medicines can interact with chemotherapy or be harmful when you are having chemotherapy. This includes medicines you can buy in a shop or chemist. Tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, complementary therapies and herbal drugs.

Fertility

Vindesine can affect your fertility (being able to get pregnant or father a child). If you are worried about this, you can talk to your doctor before treatment starts.

Contraception

Your doctor will advise you not to become pregnant or father a child during treatment. This is because the drugs may harm a developing baby. It’s important to use contraception during and for a few months after chemotherapy. You can talk to your doctor or nurse about this.

Sex

If you have sex within the first couple of days of having chemotherapy, you need to use a condom. This is to protect your partner in case there is any chemotherapy in your semen or vaginal fluid.

Breastfeeding

Women are advised not to breastfeed during treatment and for a few months after. This is in case there is chemotherapy in their breast milk.

Medical and dental treatment

If you need to go into hospital for any reason other than cancer, always tell the doctors and nurses that you are having chemotherapy. Give them contact details for your cancer doctor.

Talk to your cancer doctor or nurse if you think you need dental treatment. Always tell your dentist you are having chemotherapy.