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Topotecan (oral/injection)

Generic Name: topotecan (oral/injection) (TOE poe TEE kan)
Brand Name: Hycamtin

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Oct 3, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is topotecan?

Topotecan is used to treat ovarian cancer, small cell lung cancer, and certain types of cervical cancer.

Topotecan is usually given after other treatments have failed.

Topotecan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Topotecan affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or signs of infection (fever, chills, cough, diarrhea, stomach cramps, pain or burning when you urinate).

Before taking this medicine

You should not use topotecan if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • severe diarrhea;

  • kidney disease;

  • lung problems; or

  • a chest X-ray or radiation treatment of your chest area.

Topotecan can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects if the mother or the father is using topotecan.

  • If you are a woman, do not use topotecan if you are pregnant. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.

  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your last dose.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using topotecan.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because topotecan may harm the baby if a pregnancy does occur.

You should not breast-feed while using topotecan, and for at least 1 week after your last dose.

How should I use topotecan?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Topotecan capsules are taken by mouth, with or without food. You may need to take two different colored capsules at one time. Make sure you know the difference between capsules because one contains 4 times as much topotecan as the other, even though they may look the same in size.

If you vomit after taking a topotecan capsule, do not take another dose that same day.

Do not use a broken or opened capsule. The medicine from a broken pill can be dangerous if it gets in your eyes or on your skin. If this happens, wash your skin with soap and water or rinse your eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. Then call your doctor.

Store topotecan capsules in the refrigerator and protect them from light.

Topotecan injection is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection. Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when topotecan is injected.

Topotecan can lower your blood cell counts. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with topotecan.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your topotecan 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 skin rash or other irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or mouth sores.

What should I avoid while using topotecan?

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how topotecan will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's 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.

Topotecan side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • new or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing;

  • diarrhea with fever and stomach cramps;

  • pain or burning when you urinate; or

  • low blood cell counts--fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, mouth sores, skin sores, pale skin, cold hands and feet, bruising or bleeding, feeling light-headed.

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, diarrhea, vomiting;

  • hair loss; or

  • feeling tired.

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.

Topotecan dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Ovarian Cancer:

1.5 mg/m(2) IV over 30 minutes once a day for 5 consecutive days, starting on day 1 of a 21 day course

Comments:
-In the absence of tumor progression, a minimum of 4 courses is recommended because tumor response may be delayed.
-The median time to response was 9 to 12 weeks.
-Recommended dosage should generally not exceed 4 mg.

Use: Metastatic carcinoma of the ovary after failure of initial or subsequent chemotherapy.

Usual Adult Dose for Cervical Cancer:

0.75 mg/m(2) IV over 30 minutes on days 1, 2, and 3 of each 21 day cycle

Comments:
-Administer cisplatin 50 mg/m(2) IV on day 1 of each 21 day cycle.
-Consult cisplatin manufacturer product information for administration and hydration guidelines, and for dose adjustments.
-Recommended dosage should generally not exceed 4 mg.

Use: In combination with cisplatin, treatment of stage IVB, recurrent or persistent carcinoma of the cervix which is not amenable to curative treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.

Usual Adult Dose for Small Cell Lung Cancer:

IV formulation: 1.5 mg/m(2) IV over 30 minutes once a day for 5 consecutive days, starting on day 1 of a 21 day course
Oral capsules: 2.3 mg/m(2) orally once a day for 5 consecutive days, starting on day 1 of a 21 day course (round dose to nearest 0.25 mg)

Duration of therapy: Until disease progression

Comments:
-In the absence of tumor progression, a minimum of 4 courses is recommended because tumor response may be delayed.
-The median time to response was 5 to 7 weeks.
-Recommended IV dosage should generally not exceed 4 mg.
-Do not prescribe a replacement oral capsule dose for emesis.

Uses:
IV formulation: Small cell lung cancer sensitive disease after failure of first-line chemotherapy. Sensitive disease was defined as disease responding to chemotherapy but subsequently progressing at least 60 to 90 days after chemotherapy.
Capsule formulation: Treatment of relapsed small cell lung cancer in patients with a prior complete or partial response and who are at least 45 days from the end of first-line chemotherapy.

What other drugs will affect topotecan?

You should not receive a "colony stimulating factor" medicine within 24 hours after your last topotecan injection. This includes:

Other drugs may affect topotecan, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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