Irinotecan

Pronunciation

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

Irinotecan may lower the ability of your bone marrow to make blood cells that your body needs. This can lead to serious and sometimes fatal bleeding problems or infections. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of infection (eg, fever, chills, sore throat), unusual bruising or bleeding, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

Serious and sometimes fatal diarrhea has happened with irinotecan. Diarrhea may happen early (within 24 hours) or later (after 24 hours) after getting irinotecan. Early loose stools may happen with symptoms like runny nose, flushing, tearing, severe stomach pain, more saliva, or sweating. Late loose stools may lead to dehydration, infection, or electrolyte problems. Call your doctor right away if you have diarrhea. You may be given medicines to help treat diarrhea. Talk with your doctor.


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

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

Slideshow: 2014 Update - First Time Brand-to-Generic Switches

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, atazanavir, clarithromycin, diuretics (eg, furosemide), gemfibrozil, indinavir, itraconazole, ketoconazole, lopinavir, nefazodone, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, telaprevir, or voriconazole 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 given as an infusion at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids while using irinotecan.
  • 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.
  • Irinotecan may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. Avoid activities that may cause bruising or injury. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding. Tell your doctor if you have dark, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Severe and sometimes fatal lung problems have happened with this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have lung or breathing problems like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a cough that is new or worse.
  • Report any symptoms of fluid or electrolyte loss to your doctor (eg, unusual drowsiness; dizziness; light-headedness; 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 this medicine 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); calf pain or tenderness; chest, jaw, or left arm pain; confusion; diarrhea; fainting; fever, chills, or sore throat; light-headedness; 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; redness or irritation of the palms of the hands or soles of the feet; severe or persistent dizziness; severe stomach or back pain; shortness of breath; sudden, severe headache; symptoms of bleeding (eg, vomiting blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; unusual vaginal bleeding; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; any bleeding that is severe or that you cannot stop); symptoms of kidney problems (eg, unable to pass urine, change in the amount of urine passed, blood in the urine, unusual weight gain); 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.

Proper storage of irinotecan:

Irinotecan is handled and stored by a health care provider. You will not store it at home. Keep all medicines 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: May 6, 2015
Database Edition 15.2.1.002
Copyright © 2015 Clinical Drug Information, LLC

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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