Vinblastine Sulfate (Generic Name)

Velban®, Velbe® (Other Names)

About This Drug

Vinblastine is a drug used to treat cancer. It is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Constipation
  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Bone marrow depression may increase your risk of infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Hair loss. Most patients experience hair loss. You may notice hair thinning several days after receiving this drug. Usually hair loss is temporary; your hair should grow back when treatment is completed.
  • High blood pressure
  • Generalized weakness and discomfort

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Skin and tissue irritation. You may have redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the IV site. This irritation occurs if the drug leaks out of the vein and into surrounding tissue.
  • Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that are painful.
  • Numbness, tingling, or decreased sensation in fingers and toes
  • Jaw, bone or tumor pain
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Hearing loss
  • Hoarseness
  • Blurred or double vision or other changes in vision
  • Drooping eyelids are a rare side effect.
  • Sensitivity to light (photosensitivity). Photosensitivity means that you may become more sensitive to the effects of the sun, sun lamps, and tanning beds. Your eyes may water more, especially in bright light.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Mild nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Rash
  • Skin blistering
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Stroke. Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause. If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Seizure
  • Urinary retention. You may not completely empty your bladder of urine.
  • Lack of appetite; weight loss
  • Metallic taste in your mouth

Reproductive Concerns

  • In men and women both, this drug may temporarily or permanently affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations. In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are receiving this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period. Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
  • Women may experience signs of menopause like vaginal dryness or itching. Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.
  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse how to prevent or lessen constipation. Constipation can become a serious side effect. If you are constipated, check with your doctor or nurse before you use enemas, laxatives, or suppositories.
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for medications that help lessen the pain of a headache, muscle pain, back pain, or other pain .
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of gently cleaning your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of ½ teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of water or ½ teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in 8 ounces of water.
  • Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medication if your rash is bothersome.
  • Wear sunglasses and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when you are outdoors even for a short time. Cover up when you are out in the sun. Wear wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. Keep your neck, chest, and back covered.
  • Be careful when cooking, walking, and using sharp objects or hot liquids.
  • Speak with your nurse about obtaining a wig before you lose your hair. Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345; to find out information about the “Look Good, Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of vinblastine with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the IV site while you are receiving this drug
  • No bowel movement in 3 days or when you feel uncomfortable.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Jaw pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Blurred or double vision or other changes in vision
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. Or the discomfort may go away and come back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause.  If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Seizure

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in fingers, toes, joints, or testicles
  • Numbness, tingling, or decreased sensation or increased coldness of your fingers, hands, feet, or toes
  • Difficulty walking or changes in the way you walk
  • Skin blistering
  • Not completely emptying your bladder when you urinate
  • Headache
  • Painful mouth or throat that makes it difficult to eat or drink
  • Nausea and vomiting unrelieved by prescribed medication
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Hearing changes
  • Depression
  • Weakness that interferes with your daily activities

Revised February 2013

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com