What Topotecan is and what it is used for?
- Topotecan is a synthetic analogue of camptothecin, a nature product derived from the Camptotheca acuminata, also called the happy tree. Topotecan blocks the action of an enzyme in cells called topoisomerase I, which is necessary for cell replication and tumor growth. Blocking this enzyme leads to breaks in the DNA, which leads to cancer cell death.
- Topotecan is used to treat ovarian cancer and small cell lung cancer. This drug is usually used after other treatments have failed.
How Topotecan is given?
- It is given as an infusion into the vein over 30 minutes.
What should I know while receiving Topotecan?
- Do not receive this drug when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Men and women should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 3 and 6 months after the last dose.
- Topotecan may affect fertility. You can talk to your doctor about methods of preserving fertility before treatment starts.
- Do not receive any kind of vaccination without doctor's approval.
- You will have regular blood tests to make sure you have enough blood cells and have adequate organ functions to receive topotecan. The timing and dosing of your treatment may be changed based on the test results or side effects.
- There are many drugs may affect how topotecan works. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- The existing health problems may affect the use of topotecan. Let your doctor know if you have any other medical problems, especially if you have liver problems, kidney problems, lung or breathing problems.
Common side effects
- Low white blood cell count
You may have a higher risk of getting infections. Try to stay away from crowds and wash hands often. Tell your doctor right away if you have repeated fevers, coughing, stuffy nose, painful urination or wound that becomes red and swollen.
- Low red blood cell count
You may look pale and get tired more easily. Let your doctor know if you experience any difficulty breathing or dizziness when changing positions.
- Low platelet count
You may have a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor know if you find red or purple dots on the skin, bleeding from the nose or gums, or any bruising or bleeding that you cannot explain.
- Nausea and vomiting
Medicines may be given before the treatment to prevent it happening. Eating and drinking often in small amounts may reduce the discomfort.
- Hair loss
It may begin 2-3 weeks after your first treatment. Your hair will usually grow back after treatment has finished.
Talk to your doctor and ask for advice. Drinking plenty of water and dietary changes can improve diarrhea.
- Flu like symptoms
Symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pains and fatigue may occur a few hours after treatment. These symptoms generally last for 2 to 3 days. Seek medical help if you do not get any better.
Less common side effects
- Mouth sore
Your doctor may give you medicines that help you feel better. Good mouth care will help prevent mouth sores.
- Skin reactions
Symptoms include dryness, itching, and rash. Tell your doctor about any skin changes that you have, they can give you medicines and advices that help you feel better.
- Loss of appetite
Try to eat in small quantities and have frequent meals. If your appetite does not get any better after a few days, tell your doctor.
- Changes in liver function
This is usually mild and unlikely to cause symptoms. Let your doctor know if you notice you have yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark or brown urine, or pain in abdomen.
- Inflammation of the vein
Tell your nurse right away if you get pain, tenderness or redness at the place where the injection is given or along the vein.
- Alcohol and cigarettes may interfere with certain medicines or worsen side effects from chemotherapy treatment. It is wise to avoid alcohol and cigarettes during cancer treatment. If you have any problem about drinking alcohol and smoking, you should check with your doctor.
- Since grapefruits and bitter oranges may increase the risk of side effects from topotecan, it's sensible to avoid eating the grapefruit or bitter orange products during treatment.
- Avoid the use of St. John's Wort as it may make topotecan less effective.
- Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day can help make your recovery a smoother process.