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This page tells you about the chemotherapy combination MVP and its possible side effects. There are sections about


What MVP is

MVP is the name of a chemotherapy drug combination usually used to treat non small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen). MVP is made up of the drugs

You can click on the links above to find out about the side effects of each individual drug.

There are a number of combinations of drugs for people with lung cancer and mesothelioma. MVP is just one type of treatment. Your doctor will decide which combination is best for your situation.


How you have MVP

You have MVP every 3 weeks. You have all 3 drugs on the first day. Then there is a 3 week gap before the treatment is repeated. This is one cycle. Some doctors give mitomycin on alternate cycles because it can lower your white blood cell count. The number of treatment cycles you have depends on whether your cancer has spread and how well your cancer responds to the drugs.

You have the drugs into your bloodstream (intravenously). You can have them through a thin, short tube (a cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Or you may have them through a central line, a portacath, or a PICC line. These are long, plastic tubes that give the drugs directly into a large vein in your chest. You have the tube put in before or during your course of treatment and it stays in place as long as you need it.

You can read our information about having chemotherapy into a vein.

We have listed the side effects associated with MVP below. You can use the links to find out more about each effect. Where there is no link please see our cancer drugs side effects section or use the search box at the top of the page.


Common side effects

More than 10 in every 100 people have one or more of the side effects listed below.

  • An increased risk of getting an infection from a drop in white blood cells – it is harder to fight infections and you can become very ill. You may have headaches, aching muscles, a cough, a sore throat, pain passing urine, or you may feel cold and shivery. If you have a severe infection this can be life threatening. Contact your treatment centre straight away if you have any of these effects or if your temperature goes above 38°C. You will have regular blood tests to check your blood cell levels
  • Tiredness and breathlessness due to a drop in red blood cells (anaemia) – you may need a blood transfusion
  • Bruising more easily due to a drop in platelets – you may have nosebleeds, or bleeding gums after brushing your teeth. Or you may have lots of tiny red spots or bruises on your arms or legs (known as petechia)
  • Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) during and after treatment – most people find their energy levels are back to normal within 6 months to a year
  • Feeling or being sick – about 5 out of 10 people (50%) will feel sick at some point, even with anti sickness medicines. Sickness usually starts a few hours after each treatment and may last for up to a week. If your sickness is not controlled, tell your doctor or nurse – other anti sickness drugs may work better for you
  • A sore mouth or mouth ulcers
  • Kidney changes that are mild and unlikely to cause symptoms may occur. They will almost certainly go back to normal when treatment is finished. You will have regular blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working. To help prevent damage you need to drink plenty of water. You will also have fluids into your vein before and after your treatment
  • Hair loss or hair thinning 
  • Cisplatin can cause ear problems – you may not be able to hear some high pitched sounds but this usually gets better on its own
  • Women may stop having periods (amenorrhoea) but this may be temporary
  • Loss of fertility – you may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after this treatment. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment

Occasional side effects

Between 1 and 10 in every 100 people have one or more of these effects.

  • Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes can cause difficulty with fiddly things such as doing up buttons. This starts within a few days or weeks. It usually goes within a few months of finishing treatment
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), which nearly always gets better on its own
  • A metallic taste or a loss of taste
  • You may lose your appetite for a few days after treatment
  • Inflammation around the drip site – if you notice any signs of redness, swelling or leaking at your drip site, tell your chemotherapy nurse straight away
  • Constipation can be a problem when taking vinblastine – your doctor or nurse may give you laxatives to help prevent this. Tell them if you are constipated for more than 3 days
  • Coughing or breathlessness – tell your doctor or nurse if you have this
  • Liver changes that are very mild and unlikely to cause symptoms. The liver will almost certainly go back to normal when treatment ends. You will have regular blood tests to check how well your liver is working
  • A skin rash, which may itch
  • Your nails may become darker 
  • Allergic reactions can happen while cisplatin is going into your bloodstream, usually at the first or second treatment. Let your treatment team know straight away if you have any skin rashes, itching, or swelling of the lips, face or throat
  • Sensitivity to sunlight – you may be more sensitive to the sun. Don’t sit out in the sun and do cover up or use a sun block

Rare side effects

Fewer than 1 in 100 people have these effects.

  • Sadness or depression
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • High blood pressure
  • A faster heart rate
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Dizziness and changes in eyesight
  • Very occasionally someone has an allergic reaction to vinblastine – tell your doctor or nurse straight away if you have any skin rashes, itching or swelling of the lips, face or throat

Important points to remember

The side effects above may be mild or more severe. A side effect may get better or worse through your course of treatment, or more side effects may develop as the course goes on. This depends on

  • How many times you've had the drug before
  • Your general health
  • The amount of the drug you have (the dose)
  • Other drugs you are having

Coping with side effects

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about all your side effects so they can help you manage them. They can give you advice or reassure you. Your nurse will give you a contact number to ring if you have any questions or problems. If in doubt, call them.

Other medicines

Tell your doctor about any other medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies. Some drugs can react together.

Pregnancy and contraception

This drug may harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.


Do not breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in the breast milk.


Immunisations and chemotherapy

You should not have immunisations with live vaccines while you are having chemotherapy or for at least 6 months afterwards. In the UK, these include rubella, mumps, measles (usually given together as MMR), BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).

You can have other vaccines, but they may not give you as much protection as usual until your immune system has fully recovered from your chemotherapy. It is safe to have the flu vaccine.

It is safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. There can be problems with vaccines you take by mouth (oral vaccines), but not many people in the UK have these now. So there is usually no problem in being with any baby or child who has recently had any vaccination in the UK. You might need to make sure that you aren't in contact with anyone who has had oral polio, cholera or typhoid vaccination recently, particularly if you live abroad.


Related information

You can read our information about:

Non small cell lung cancer

Mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen)




Chemotherapy for lung cancer

Chemotherapy for mesothelioma


More information about MVP drugs

This page does not list all the very rare side effects of this treatment that are very unlikely to affect you. For further information look at the Electronic Medicines Compendium website at

If you have a side effect not mentioned here that you think may be due to this treatment you can report it to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) at

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Updated: 24 February 2015