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Generic Name

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).

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.

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

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


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Last Revised June 7, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.