Lung Cancer Home > Etopophos and Pregnancy
Using Etopophos (etoposide phosphate) during pregnancy may lead to potentially serious problems in an unborn child, such as bone marrow depression or birth defects. Although it is usually recommended that pregnant women not receive this medication, there may be situations where the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the fetus. Women should use an effective birth control method during treatment with this drug.
Can Pregnant Women Receive Etopophos?Etopophos® (etoposide phosphate) is a prescription cancer medication. It is considered a pregnancy Category D medicine, which means it may cause harm to an unborn child if used by a pregnant woman.
What Is Pregnancy Category D?The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category D is given to medicines that have been shown to present a risk to the fetus in studies of pregnant women but may still offer benefits that outweigh the risks the drug presents. A pregnancy Category D medicine may still be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the woman outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child.
When given to pregnant mice and rats, etoposide (the active ingredient in Etopophos) was shown to cause birth defects and other problems. In rats, very small doses caused a variety of defects, including neural tube defects, skeletal abnormalities, and underdevelopment or complete absence of the eyes. Higher doses (up to one-half the normal equivalent human dose) caused miscarriages in most of the rats. In mice, very small doses increased the risk for low fetal weight, miscarriages, and skull and skeletal defects.
Etopophos has not been adequately studied in pregnant women. However, the medicine is known to cause bone marrow depression, a condition that occurs when the bone marrow cannot make adequate amounts of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and there have been a few reports of severe bone marrow depression occurring in newborns whose mothers took etoposide during pregnancy. The drug has also been reported to impair fetal growth.
It is generally recommended that this medicine not be used in pregnant women. However, because lung cancer is potentially fatal, there may be times when Etopophos is recommended during pregnancy despite the potential risks.