Vinflunine (Javlor) | Cancer Research UK
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What vinflunine is

Vinflunine is a chemotherapy drug used to treat advanced

  • Cancer of the bladder
  • Cancer of the tube from the bladder to outside the body (the urethra)
  • Cancer of the centre part of the kidney (the renal pelvis)

Vinflunine is also called Javlor. It is licensed for people who have already had cisplatin or carboplatin chemotherapy.

Research is also looking at vinflunine as a treatment for other types of cancer.


How vinflunine works

Vinflunine is one of a group of drugs known as the vinca alkaloids. It works by attacking part of the cell’s structure that is made out of a protein called tubulin. So the cells can’t separate into two, which stops the growth of the cancer.


How you have vinflunine

You have vinflunine into your bloodstream (intravenously). You can have it through a thin, short tube (a cannula) put into a vein in your arm each time you have treatment. Or you may have it 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.

You usually have the vinflunine once every 3 weeks. The drip lasts for about 20 minutes. Before each treatment you have blood tests and so you are likely to be at the hospital for a few hours. Your doctor will discuss with you the number of treatments you may need.


Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and regularly during your treatment. The tests check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.


About side effects

We've listed the side effects associated with vinflunine. You can use the links to find out more about each side effect. Where there is no link, please go to our information about cancer drug side effects or use the search box at the top of the page.

You may have a few side effects. They 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)

The side effects may be different if you are having vinflunine with other medicines.

Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if any of the side effects get severe.


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
  • 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 petechiae)
  • Constipation affects just over half of people (50%) – drink plenty of fluids. Your doctor or nurse will give you laxatives to help prevent constipation but tell them if you are constipated for more than 3 days
  • Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) occurs in 1 in 2 people (50%) during and after treatment – most people find their energy levels are back to normal within 6 months to a year
  • Feeling or being sick affects about 4 out of every 10 people (40%) but this is usually well controlled with anti sickness medicines
  • Loss of appetite happens in about 3 out of 10 people (30%)
  • Hair loss – about 3 out of 10 people (30%) have complete hair loss but the hair grows back once the treatment ends
  • A sore mouth occurs in 1 out of 4 people (25%)
  • Stomach pain affects 1 in 5 people (20%)
  • Diarrhoea affects just over 1 out of 10 people (10%) – drink plenty of fluids and tell your doctor or nurse if diarrhoea becomes severe, or continues for more than 3 days
  • Inflammation around the drip siteif you notice any signs of redness, swelling or leaking at your drip site, tell your chemotherapy nurse straight away
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle pain
  • A high temperature
  • Women may stop having periods (amenorrhoea) but this may only be temporary
  • Loss of fertility – you may not be able to get pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. It is important to talk to your doctor about your fertility before starting treatment if you think you would like to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment
  • Low sodium levels in the blood – tell your nurse straight away if you feel sick, and have a headache, confusion, tiredness, weakness, restlessness, irritability, and  muscle weakness, spasms or cramps

Occasional side effects

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

  • Some people have an allergic reaction while having vinflunine treatment, usually at the first or second treatment. Let your treatment team know straight away if you feel hot or have any skin rashes, itching, dizziness, headaches, shivering, breathlessness, anxiety, a flushed face, or a sudden need to pass urine
  • Skin changes – your skin may be dry, itchy and become sore or you may have a rash
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating and chills – your doctor or nurse may be able to prescribe medicines to help
  • Taste changes
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath, a cough and chest pain
  • Indigestion
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Dehydration – drink plenty of fluids while having this treatment
  • Pain in the back, jaw, mouth, tongue, teeth, bones or ear
  • Joint pains
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness – do not drive or operate machinery if you have this
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Fluid build up causing swelling in your arms, hands ankles, legs or other parts of the body
  • Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes affects up to 1 out of 10 people (10%). It can cause difficulty with fiddly things such as doing up buttons. This starts within a few days or weeks and usually goes within a few months of finishing treatment
  • Sudden, quick loss of consciousness

Rare side effects

Fewer than 1 in 100 people have these effects.

  • Kidney changes that are unlikely to cause symptoms – the kidneys will almost certainly go back to normal when treatment ends
  • Weight gain
  • Eyesight changes
  • Dry, sore eyes
  • Throat pain
  • Swollen, sore gums
  • Dry or red skin
  • Difficulty contracting muscles
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Liver changes that are mild and  unlikely to cause symptoms – they will almost certainly go back to normal when treatment is finished
  • Pain in the area of the cancer

Important points to remember

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 with this drug and for 3 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.

Foods and drink to avoid

Medicines, foods and herbal supplements which contain CYP enzymes can interfere with how vinflunine works. Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while you are having treatment.


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 


More information about vinflunine

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: 1 July 2015