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Topotecan Hydrochloride (Hycamtin®) (IV)

About This Drug

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

Possible Side Effects

  • 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.
  • Fevers
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 10% or greater of patients treated with topotecan. Not all possible side effects are included above.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Inflammation (swelling) of the lungs, which can be rarely fatal. You may have a dry cough or trouble breathing.
  • Severe bone marrow depression.
  • Typhlitis. Swelling (inflammation) in the colon, which can be rarely fatal, at the same time of being severely immune compromised (low white blood cell, which raises your risk of infection) - symptoms are loose bowel movements (diarrhea), pain in your abdomen, fevers and/or chills.
  • Skin and tissue irritation may involve redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the IV site. Injury may be rarely severe. This happens if the drug leaks out of the vein and into nearby tissue.

Important Information

  • This drug may be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, urine, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions.  Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.

Treating Side Effects

  • To decrease your risk of infection, wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infections.
  • Take your temperature as your doctor or nurse tells you, and whenever you feel like you may have a fever.
  • To decrease your risk of bleeding, use a soft toothbrush. Check with your nurse before using dental floss.
  • Be very careful when using knives or tools.
  • Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
  • 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).
  • To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • There are no known interactions of topotecan with food.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and dietary supplements you are taking before starting this medicine as there are known drug interactions with topotecan. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplement to make sure that there are no interactions.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Pain in your chest
  • Dry cough
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • While you are getting this drug, please tell your nurse right away if you have any pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion
  • If you think you are pregnant or if you have impregnated your partner

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn baby. Women of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for at least 1 month after treatment. Men with female partners of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for at least 3 months after your cancer treatment. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant (or may have impregnated your partner).
  • Breastfeeding 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.
  • Fertility warning: In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children in the future. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Revised July 2017

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