Topotecan Hydrochloride (Generic Name)

Other Names: HycamtinTM

About This Drug

Topotecan hydrochloride is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Constipation (not able to move bowels)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Hair loss. You may notice your hair getting thin. Some patients lose their hair. Your hair often grows back when treatment is done.
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours or many hours after your treatment. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Feeling tired

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Changes in your liver function. Your doctor will check your liver function as needed
  • Rash

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen constipation.
  • If you cannot move your bowels, check with your doctor or nurse before you use any enemas, laxatives, or suppositories
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen diarrhea.
  • Speak with your nurse about obtaining a wig before you lose your hair. Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “ Look Good, Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.
  • If you get a rash, do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare but may happen in some patients. Signs of allergic reaction to this drug may be swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way. If this happens, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of topotecan with food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • No bowel movement in 3 days or if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times in one day or diarrhea with weakness or feeling lightheaded
  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale stools, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Headache that does not go away

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised July 2014

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