Irinotecan injection is used alone or in combination with other medications to treat colon or rectal cancer (cancer that begins in the large intestine). Irinotecan is in a class of antineoplastic medications called topoisomerase I inhibitors. It works by stopping the growth of cancer cells.
Side Effects Of Irinotecan Injection
Irinotecan injection may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- swelling and sores in the mouth
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- hair loss
- pain, especially back pain
Some side effects of irinotecan injection can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- chest pain
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- swollen stomach
- unexpected or unusual weight gain
- swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Some people who received irinotecan developed blood clots in their legs, lungs, brains, or hearts. There is not enough information to tell whether irinotecan caused the blood clots. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving irinotecan.
Irinotecan injection may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before receiving irinotecan injection:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to irinotecan, sorbitol, or any other medications.
- tell your doctor if you are taking ketoconazole (Nizoral). Your doctor will probably tell you not to take ketoconazole for one week before you begin your treatment with irinotecan injection or during your treatment.
- tell your doctor if you are taking St. John’s wort. You should not take St. John’s wort for 2 weeks before you begin your treatment with irinotecan injection or during your treatment.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: atazanavir (Reyataz); gemfibrozil (Lopid); medications for seizures such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol), phenobarbital (Luminal), phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); rifabutin (Mycobutin); and rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, in Rifamate and Rifater). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects while taking irinotecan injection.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes; fructose intolerance (inability to digest the natural sugar found in fruit); or liver, lung, or kidney disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or plan to father a child. You or your partner should not become pregnant while you are receiving irinotecan injection. You will need to have a negative pregnancy test before you begin receiving this medication. If you are female, use effective birth control during your treatment and for 6 months after your final dose. If you are a male and your partner can become pregnant, you should use effective birth control (condoms) during your treatment and for 3 months after your final dose. If you or your partner become pregnant while receiving irinotecan, call your doctor. Irinotecan may harm the fetus.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed while you are receiving irinotecan injection, and for 7 days after your final dose.
- you should know that this medication may decrease fertility in men and women. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving irinotecan injection.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are receiving irinotecan injection.
- you should know that irinotecan may make you dizzy or affect your vision, especially during the first 24 hours after you receive a dose. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- talk to your doctor before you receive any vaccinations during your treatment with irinotecan.
Dosage Of Irinotecan Injection
Irinotecan comes as a liquid to be given over 90 minutes intravenously (into a vein) by a doctor or nurse. It is usually given not more often than once a week, according to a schedule that alternates one or more weeks when you receive irinotecan injection with one or more weeks when you do not receive the medication. Your doctor will choose the schedule that will work best for you.
Your doctor may need to delay your treatment and adjust your dose if you experience certain side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with irinotecan.
Your doctor may give you medication to prevent nausea, vomiting before you receive each dose of irinotecan injection. Your doctor may also give you other medication(s) to prevent or treat other side effects.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information on irinotecan injection has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.