Irinotecan

Pronunciation

Generic Name: irinotecan (EYE-ri-noe-TEE-kan)
Brand Name: Camptosar

Irinotecan can cause severe diarrhea, both early in treatment and 24 hours or more after receiving this drug. The early form of diarrhea may be accompanied by runny nose, increased salivation, tearing eyes, sweating, stomach cramps, or flushing. Using atropine can help with these side effects. The late-onset form of diarrhea (after 24 hours) can persist and may lead to vitamin and mineral imbalances that could be fatal if untreated. Your doctor will give you loperamide for this form of diarrhea. Use the loperamide exactly as directed. You may also be given fluid, vitamin, and mineral replacements. Your doctor may temporarily stop irinotecan if severe diarrhea continues. It may be restarted later at a lower dose. Irinotecan can also cause bone marrow suppression, which can decrease your ability to fight infections or cause bleeding problems. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop signs of infection, such as persistent sore throat or fever, unusual fatigue, or easy bruising or bleeding.


Irinotecan is used for:

Treating cancer of the colon or rectum. It may be used alone or in combination with other medicines. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Irinotecan is an antineoplastic agent. It works by interfering with the production of proteins necessary for cancer cell growth and reproduction.

Do NOT use irinotecan if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in irinotecan
  • you are taking ketoconazole or St. John's wort

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using irinotecan:

Some medical conditions may interact with irinotecan. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver disease; a blood disorder; bone marrow depression; diabetes or high blood sugar; kidney or lung disease; or herpes zoster, varicella, or another infection; or you cannot tolerate fructose
  • if you have recently received or will be receiving a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps)
  • if you have recently had or will be having dental procedures or radiation therapy

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with irinotecan. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Other antineoplastic agents, dexamethasone, diuretics (eg, furosemide), ketoconazole, or prochlorperazine because they may increase the risk of irinotecan's side effects
  • Carbamazepine, hydantoins (eg, phenytoin), phenobarbital, rifabutin, rifampin, or St. John's wort because they may decrease irinotecan's effectiveness

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if irinotecan may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use irinotecan:

Use irinotecan as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Irinotecan is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using irinotecan at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use irinotecan. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Do not use irinotecan if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids while using irinotecan.
  • If you spill irinotecan on your skin, wash it off right away with soap and water.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of irinotecan, contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use irinotecan.

Important safety information:

  • Irinotecan may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or vision changes. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use irinotecan with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • If nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite occurs, ask your doctor or pharmacist for ways to lessen these effects.
  • If swelling occurs at the injection site, apply ice to the area.
  • Do not receive a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps) while you are taking irinotecan. Avoid close contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. Talk with your doctor before you receive any vaccine.
  • If you experience diarrhea more than 24 hours after receiving a dose of irinotecan, contact your doctor immediately. Have loperamide available to take at the first sign of a loose stool. Check with your doctor for the appropriate dose.
  • Avoid use of laxatives because of the risk of increased diarrhea. Contact your doctor to discuss any laxative use.
  • If you are unable to drink fluids while using irinotecan, contact your doctor right away.
  • Your hair may fall out while using irinotecan. It usually grows back after treatment.
  • Irinotecan may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Report any symptoms of fluid or electrolyte loss to your doctor (eg, unusual drowsiness; dizziness; lightheadedness; dry mouth; infrequent urination; lack of energy; low blood pressure; muscle pain or cramps; muscle weakness; rapid heartbeat; stomach disorders, such as nausea and vomiting; thirst; restlessness; weakness).
  • Lab tests, including white blood cell counts, hemoglobin, and platelet counts, may be performed while you use irinotecan. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use irinotecan with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially the risk of early- and late-onset diarrhea.
  • Irinotecan should not be used in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Irinotecan may cause harm to the fetus. Do not become pregnant while you are using it. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using irinotecan while you are pregnant. It is not known if irinotecan is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking irinotecan.

Possible side effects of irinotecan:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Back pain; constipation; cough; dehydration; dizziness; drowsiness; flushing; gas; hair loss; headache; increased salivation; indigestion; loss of appetite; mouth sores; nausea; runny nose; small pupils; stomach pain/cramps; sweating; tearing eyes; trouble sleeping; weakness; weight loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black or bloody stools; calf pain or tenderness; chest, jaw, or left arm pain; confusion; diarrhea; fainting; fever, chills, or sore throat; lightheadedness; lung or breathing problems (eg, cough); mental or mood changes; numbness of an arm or leg; one-sided weakness; pain in the groin or lower legs; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; severe or persistent dizziness; severe stomach or back pain; shortness of breath; sudden, severe headache; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual change in the amount of urine; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision or speech changes; vomiting.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include diarrhea.

Proper storage of irinotecan:

Irinotecan is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using irinotecan at home, store irinotecan as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep irinotecan out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about irinotecan, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Irinotecan is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take irinotecan or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about irinotecan. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to irinotecan. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using irinotecan.

Issue Date: November 5, 2014
Database Edition 14.4.1.002
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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