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What Is Etoposide Phosphate Used For?

Etoposide Phosphate Use for the Treatment of Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer occurs when cancer cells begin to form in the testicles (testes), the male reproductive organs located in the scrotum. Testicular cancer normally only affects one testicle. Overall, it is a rare type of cancer. However, it is the most common cancer type in men between the ages of 15 and 34 in the United States.
Some men with testicular cancer do not have any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • A lump or swelling in the testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the lower abdomen (stomach) or groin
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
  • A sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum.
Treatment for testicular cancer can vary, depending on the type of the tumor and the extent of cancer in the body. The three types of treatment include:
Etoposide phosphate is a type of chemotherapy treatment. It is approved for use in combination with other chemotherapy medicines to treat refractory testicular tumors, which means the tumors have not adequately responded to treatment with other chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

How Does It Work?

Etoposide phosphate belongs to a group of medicines known as podophyllotoxin derivatives. Podophyllotoxins are derived from the Mayapple tree (Podophyllum peltatum). These medications work by interfering with the action of an enzyme known as topoisomerase II.
Topoisomerase II helps relax DNA that has been tangled or overwound, which can happen when DNA is unwinding to duplicate so cells can divide. The enzyme does this by cutting the DNA strands to relieve the tension and then putting the strands back together. Etoposide phosphate binds to topoisomerase II and prevents the enzyme from relaxing DNA. As a result, the DNA strands break. This prevents cells from dividing, which stops the growth of cancer cells.
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