Topotecan (By mouth)
Treats small cell lung cancer.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you are pregnant or if you have had an allergic reaction to topotecan or have severe bone marrow depression (low blood counts).
How to Use This Medicine
- Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
- Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- Swallow the capsule whole with water. Do not open, crush, break, or chew it.
- You may also receive medicines to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
- Do not touch broken or leaking capsules with your bare hands. If you get the contents from the capsule on your skin, wash the area with soap and water and call your doctor right away. If the medicine gets in your eyes, rinse them immediately with gently flowing water for at least 15 minutes and call your doctor right away.
- This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
- If you vomit after taking your medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store the medicine in the refrigerator and do not allow it to freeze. Protect the bottle of capsules from light.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you also use cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, or Sandimmune®), elacridar, ketoconazole (Nizoral®), ritonavir (Norvir®), or saquinavir (Fortovase® or Invirase®).
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Your unborn baby could be harmed if you use this medicine while you are pregnant. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding or if you have kidney disease, blood or bone marrow problems, any type of infection, or a history of lung disease.
- This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
- If you have severe diarrhea, ask your doctor before taking any medicine to stop the diarrhea.
- Check with your doctor right away if you have trouble breathing, cough, fever, or wheezing. These could be symptoms of a serious lung problem.
- Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
- This medicine may make you weak or tired. Do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
- Severe diarrhea
- Trouble breathing
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Hair loss or thinning of the hair
- Mild diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013