Generic Name: irinotecan (EYE ri noe TEE kan)
Brand Names: Camptosar
What is Camptosar?
Camptosar (irinotecan) is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Camptosar is used to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is usually given with other cancer medicines in a combination chemotherapy.
Camptosar may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Camptosar can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. You may get an infection or bleed more easily. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches).
Camptosar can cause severe diarrhea, which can be life-threatening if it leads to dehydration. You may be given medications to prevent or quickly treat diarrhea. Call your doctor whenever you have diarrhea during your treatment with Camptosar.
Before receiving Camptosar
You should not use Camptosar if you are allergic to irinotecan.
To make sure you can safely receive Camptosar, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
liver or kidney disease;
asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, or other breathing disorder;
an intestinal disorder or obstruction;
fructose intolerance (irinotecan contains sorbitol); or
if you are receiving radiation treatment to your abdomen or pelvic area.
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use Camptosar if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
See also: Pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
It is not known whether irinotecan passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Camptosar.
How is Camptosar given?
Your doctor may recommend a DNA test before your first dose of Camptosar. Some people are genetically more likely to suffer certain side effects.
Camptosar is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. The injection must be given slowly, and the IV infusion can take up to 90 minutes to complete.
You may be given other medications to prevent nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other side effects while you are receiving Camptosar. You may need to keep using these medications for at least a day after receiving your injection.
Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when Camptosar is injected.
If any of the medicine gets on your skin, wash right away with soap and water.
Camptosar can cause severe diarrhea, which can be life-threatening if it leads to dehydration. You may be given medications to prevent or quickly treat diarrhea.
Your doctor may recommend you have an anti-diarrhea medicine such as loperamide (Imodium) available at all times while you are receiving Camptosar. Take the anti-diarrhea medication at the first sign of loose or frequent bowel movements. Do not take loperamide for longer than 2 full days without your doctor's advice.
To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested often. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly.
If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Camptosar.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Camptosar injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include some of the serious side effects listed in this medication guide.
What should I avoid?
Avoid using a laxative or stool softener during treatment with Camptosar.
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Irinotecan can pass into body fluids (including urine, feces, vomit, semen, vaginal fluid). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Patients and caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.
Body fluids should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Use condoms during sexual activity to avoid exposure to body fluids.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using Camptosar, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), oral polio, typhoid, chickenpox (varicella), BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Guérin), and nasal flu vaccine.
Camptosar may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Camptosar side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Camptosar: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor whenever you have diarrhea during your treatment with Camptosar.
Also call your doctor at once if you have:
severe stomach pain, fever, painful mouth sores, pain when swallowing, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, trouble breathing;
wheezing, feeling short of breath;
chest pain, dry cough;
pale skin, feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
runny nose, watery eyes, increased sweating, stomach cramps, and flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
black, bloody, or tarry stools;
nausea or vomiting that keeps you from drinking enough fluids;
burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle;
sudden numbness or weakness, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
swelling, rapid weight gain; or
feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, feeling light-headed, or hot and dry skin.
Less serious Camptosar side effects may include:
temporary hair loss.
loss of appetite, constipation;
mild skin rash; or
redness or peeling of the skin on your hands and feet.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Camptosar?
Before you are treated with Camptosar, tell your doctor about all other cancer medicines you have recently used.
Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:
St. John's wort; or
seizure medicine such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, or phenytoin.
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Camptosar. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
More about Camptosar (irinotecan)
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about Camptosar.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Camptosar only for the indication prescribed.
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