Camptosar – Irinotecan

What is Irinotecan?

 Irinotecan is a chemotherapy medication used to treat metastatic carcinoma of the colon or rectum. There are many off-label, non-FDA approved indications for the drug as well, including: cervical cancer (recurrent or metastatic), CNS tumors, esophageal cancer (metastatic or locally advanced), Ewing sarcoma, gastric cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer (recurrent), advanced pancreatic cancer and extensive stage small cell lung cancer.  

How is it administered?

Irinotecan is administered as an intravenous infusion, typically over 90 minutes. This medication can cause nausea frequently, thus medications to prevent nausea from occurring are infused prior. It additionally can cause diarrhea, runny nose, increased salivation and sweating. Medications can be given prior to infusion or at home to help with these side effects.  

What to expect:

Irinotecan can cause anemia and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections. It can cause diarrhea, increased sweating, runny nose, nausea, headache, chills, hair loss, constipation, weight loss, shortness of breath and overall weakness. Irinotecan can additionally cause increases in liver enzymes; lab work is done regularly throughout treatment to monitor these side effects. Medications to have on hand at home are typically prescribed to help manage some of these side effects.