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Vincristine alone or in combination with other anticancer medicines is used in the treatment of cancers of the blood (leukaemia or lymphomas), breast, head and neck, lung, soft tissue (rhabdomyosarcoma) or nerve tissue (neuroblastoma). It is also used to treat a cancer of plasma cells (multiple myeloma) and kidney cancers in children (Wilms' tumor). It is even used in a blood disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) after other treatments have not been successful.

How it works

Vincristine belongs to a group of medicines called vinca alkaloids. It works by interfering with the growth of cancer cells (mitotic inhibition) and slows their spread in the body by causing an arrest of cell division in metaphase.

Common side effects

Nerve pain, Loss of deep-tendon reflexes, Muscle atrophy, Constipation, Hair loss, Decreased white blood cell count, Sensory loss, Walking difficulties, Abnormal sensation in skin


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Expert advice

  • Avoid being near people suffering from infections (such as, cold, flu, contagious illnesses), as you may be more susceptible to infections, while on vincristine therapy, because of possibility of leukopenia.
  • Avoid even accidental contamination of eyes with vincristine as it may cause severe irritation.
  • Vincristine may cause acute kidney disease (nephropathy) related to uric acid level.
  • Care should be taken in elderly patients because they are more susceptible to neurotoxic effects of vincristine.
  • In males, vincristine may cause aspermia (lack of semen causing infertility); in females vincristine may cause amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), which may recover after some duration.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is vincristine cardiotoxic/ototoxic?
Vincristine when used in combination with other drugs has shown to be cardiotoxic/ototoxic with unknown cause.
Q. Is vincristine an alkylating agent/ an anthracycline?
Vincristine is vinca alkaloid and not an alkylating agent/ an anthracycline.
Q. Is vincristine a vesicant?
Vincristine is a vesicant (irritant) and can cause damage to the blood vessels if it is not administered properly.
Q. Is vincristine non DNA binding?
Vincristine does not bind to DNA.
Q. Is vincristine neuropathy reversible?
Vincristine neuropathy is not reversible.
Q. Is vincristine FDA approved?
Vincristine is a FDA approved medication.
Q. Is vincristine cytotoxic?
Vincristine is a cytotoxic drug.
Q. Does vincristine cause hair loss/infertility/ lower blood counts/ neutropenia/ neuropathy/ fever/ nausea?
These side effects are commonly observed with the use of vincristine drug.
Q. How does vincristine affect mitosis?
Vincristine works by interfering with the growth of cancer cells (mitotic inhibition) and slows their spread in the body by causing an arrest of cell division in metaphase.
Q. Where does vincristine come from?
Vincristine is a plant alkaloid comes from the source called Vinca rosea Linn.

Content on this page was last updated on 03 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)