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Vinorelbine (Navelbine)

Find out what vinorelbine is, how you have it and other important information about having vinorelbine.

Vinorelbine is a chemotherapy drug and is also known by its brand name, Navelbine. 

It is a treatment for:

  • advanced breast cancer
  • non small cell lung cancer
  • mesothelioma (cancer of the outer covering of the lung)

How it works

Vinorelbine is a type of drug called a vinca alkaloid. It stops the cancer cells from separating into 2 new cells. So it blocks the growth of the cancer.

How you have it

You have vinorelbine into your bloodstream (intravenously) or as capsules.

Drugs into your bloodstream

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

Taking your capsules

Vinorelbine comes as capsules of 20mg, 30mg and 80mg. You swallow them with plenty of water and ideally with something to eat.

Don’t chew or suck the capsules because the drug could make your mouth sore if it leaks out. If you do this accidentally, rinse your mouth out over and over again with clean water and contact your doctor or nurse as soon as possible.

Don’t take the capsules with a hot drink as this can make them dissolve too quickly.

You must take capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

You usually have vinorelbine as a course of several cycles of treatment over a few months. Your doctor or nurse will tell you more about this and how many you are likely to have. The treatment plan depends on which type of cancer you have. 

Tests during treatment

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

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

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 at least 3 months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.


You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. 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. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.


Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.


Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid close contact with people who’ve recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.

This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened. 

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.