What is this medication?
IRINOTECAN (ir in oh TEE kan) treats some types of cancer. It works by slowing down the growth of cancer cells.
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Camptosar
What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
- Infection, especially a viral infection, such as chickenpox, cold sores, herpes
- Liver disease
- Low blood cell levels (white cells, red cells, and platelets)
- Low levels of electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, or potassium in your blood
- Recent or ongoing radiation
- An unusual or allergic reaction to irinotecan, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- If you or your partner are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
This medication is injected into a vein. It is given by your care team in a hospital or clinic setting.
Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. Special care may be needed.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
What if I miss a dose?
Keep appointments for follow-up doses. It is important not to miss your dose. Call your care team if you are unable to keep an appointment.
What may interact with this medication?
Do not take this medication with any of the following:
This medication may also interact with the following:
- Certain antibiotics, such as clarithromycin, rifampin, rifabutin
- Certain antivirals for HIV or AIDS
- Certain medications for fungal infections, such as ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole
- Certain medications for seizures, such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin
- St. John's wort
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medication. You may need blood work while taking this medication.
This medication may make you feel generally unwell. This is not uncommon as chemotherapy can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Report any side effects. Continue your course of treatment even though you feel ill unless your care team tells you to stop.
This medication can cause serious side effects. To reduce the risk, your care team may give you other medications to take before receiving this one. Be sure to follow the directions from your care team.
This medication may affect your coordination, reaction time, or judgement. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you. Sit up or stand slowly to reduce the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Drinking alcohol with this medication can increase the risk of these side effects.
This medication may increase your risk of getting an infection. Call your care team for advice if you get a fever, chills, sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.
Avoid taking medications that contain aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen unless instructed by your care team. These medications may hide a fever.
This medication may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your care team if you notice any unusual bleeding.
Be careful brushing or flossing your teeth or using a toothpick because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are receiving this medication.
Talk to your care team if you or your partner are pregnant or think either of you might be pregnant. This medication can cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy and for 6 months after the last dose. You will need a negative pregnancy test before starting this medication. Contraception is recommended while taking this medication and for 6 months after the last dose. Your care team can help you find the option that works for you.
Do not father a child while taking this medication and for 3 months after the last dose. Use a condom for contraception during this time period.
Do not breastfeed while taking this medication and for 7 days after the last dose.
This medication may cause infertility. Talk to your care team if you are concerned about your fertility.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?
Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:
- Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Dry cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Increased saliva or tears, increased sweating, stomach cramping, diarrhea, small pupils, unusual weakness or fatigue, slow heartbeat
- Infection—fever, chills, cough, sore throat, wounds that don't heal, pain or trouble when passing urine, general feeling of discomfort or being unwell
- Kidney injury—decrease in the amount of urine, swelling of the ankles, hands, or feet
- Low red blood cell level—unusual weakness or fatigue, dizziness, headache, trouble breathing
- Severe or prolonged diarrhea
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Where should I keep my medication?
This medication is given in a hospital or clinic. It will not be stored at home.
NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
Additional Information From Chemocare.com About Irinotecan
- If you have redness or pain at the infusion site apply ice and notify your health care professional promptly.
- Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed otherwise.
- Follow regimen of anti-diarrhea medication as prescribed by your health care professional.
- Eat foods that may help reduce diarrhea (see managing side effects - diarrhea).
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals. Sucking on lozenges and chewing gum may also help.
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds or not feeling well, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda and/or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 8 ounces of water.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)
- Fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, dark colored urine (symptoms of dehydration)
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
- Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period) despite use of anti-diarrhea medication and diet modifications.
- Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication).
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
- Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.