What is Topotecan?

Topotecan (Hycamtin) is a camptothecin chemotherapy medication that inhibits a key enzyme in DNA synthesis. It is used to treat recurrent or resistant cervical cancer, metastatic ovarian cancer and relapsed small cell lung cancer. This chemotherapy has several non-FDA approved, off label indications as well. By blocking a key enzyme in DNA synthesis, topoisomerase I, this medication prevents the cell from dividing, leading to cell death and tumor retardation. 

How it is administered:

Topotecan is administered as an intravenous infusion, typically over 30 minutes. It is also available as an oral capsule. If taken orally, it should be swallowed whole, with or without a meal. For intravenous infusion, pre-medications are infused prior-to this medication to prevent the occurrence of nausea.

What to expect:

Topotecan can cause anemia and reduce the body’s ability to fight infections. Other side effects associated with this therapy include, but are not limited to: fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, increased liver enzymes, weakness, shortness of breath, fever and sepsis. Laboratory tests are always performed routinely throughout the course of therapy to help manage and monitor the development of these side effects.