Health Information

 

 

Topotecan

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
topotecan Hycamtin

Topotecan is available as a pill you can swallow or as an intravenous (IV) medicine.

How It Works

Topotecan is a topoisomerase inhibitor that stops the growth of cancer cells by preventing cell division.

Why It Is Used

Topotecan is used to treat cancer, such as ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer.

How Well It Works

Topotecan is an effective antitumor medicine. But the type and extent of a cancer determines how effectively this medicine slows or stops the growth of cancer cells in the body.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Fever, chills, body aches or flu symptoms.
  • Severe diarrhea with fever or stomach pain.
  • Easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Unusual weakness.
  • White patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips, or other signs of infection.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Decreased white blood cell counts. Red blood cell counts and platelet counts can also be reduced.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Changes in liver function tests.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Topotecan should only be administered under the supervision of a medical oncologist.

Do not use this medicine if you have:

While you are taking this medicine, don't get any "live" vaccines. Also, stay away from anyone who has recently had a live vaccine.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Ross Berkowitz, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised May 8, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.