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Irinotecan Hydrochloride Solution for injection

What is this medicine?

IRINOTECAN (ir in oh TEE kan ) is a chemotherapy drug. It is used to treat colon and rectal cancer.

How should I use this medicine?

This drug is given as an infusion into a vein. It is administered in a hospital or clinic by a specially trained health care professional.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • low blood counts - this medicine may decrease the number of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. You may be at increased risk for infections and bleeding.

  • signs of infection - fever or chills, cough, sore throat, pain or difficulty passing urine

  • signs of decreased platelets or bleeding - bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine

  • signs of decreased red blood cells - unusually weak or tired, fainting spells, lightheadedness

  • breathing problems

  • chest pain

  • diarrhea

  • feeling faint or lightheaded, falls

  • flushing, runny nose, sweating during infusion

  • mouth sores or pain

  • pain, swelling, redness or irritation where injected

  • pain, swelling, warmth in the leg

  • pain, tingling, numbness in the hands or feet

  • problems with balance, talking, walking

  • stomach cramps, pain

  • trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine

  • vomiting as to be unable to hold down drinks or food

  • yellowing of the eyes or skin

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • constipation

  • hair loss

  • headache

  • loss of appetite

  • nausea, vomiting

  • stomach upset

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:

  • atazanavir

  • ketoconazole

  • St. John's Wort

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • dexamethasone

  • diuretics

  • laxatives

  • medicines for seizures like carbamazepine, mephobarbital, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone

  • medicines to increase blood counts like filgrastim, pegfilgrastim, sargramostim

  • prochlorperazine

  • vaccines

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss your dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment.

Where should I keep my medicine?

This drug is given in a hospital or clinic and will not be stored at home.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • blood disorders

  • dehydration

  • diarrhea

  • infection (especially a virus infection such as chickenpox, cold sores, or herpes)

  • liver disease

  • low blood counts, like low white cell, platelet, or red cell counts

  • recent or ongoing radiation therapy

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to irinotecan, sorbitol, other chemotherapy, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant

  • breast-feeding

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medicine. You will need important blood work done while you are taking this medicine.

This drug may make you feel generally unwell. This is not uncommon, as chemotherapy can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Report any side effects. Continue your course of treatment even though you feel ill unless your doctor tells you to stop.

In some cases, you may be given additional medicines to help with side effects. Follow all directions for their use.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells.

Call your doctor or health care professional for advice if you get a fever, chills or sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. This drug decreases your body's ability to fight infections. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.

This medicine may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your doctor or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding.

Be careful brushing and flossing your teeth or using a toothpick because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are receiving this medicine.

Avoid taking products that contain aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen unless instructed by your doctor. These medicines may hide a fever.

Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 5/5/2009
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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