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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Camptosar

Generic Name: irinotecan (Pronunciation: EYE ri noe TEE kan)

What is irinotecan (Camptosar)?

Irinotecan is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Irinotecan is used to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is usually given with other cancer medicines in a combination chemotherapy.

Irinotecan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of irinotecan (Camptosar)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • wheezing, feeling short of breath;
  • chest pain, dry cough;
  • pale skin, feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;
  • runny nose, watery eyes, increased sweating, stomach cramps, and flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling);
  • black, bloody, or tarry stools;
  • nausea or vomiting that keeps you from drinking enough fluids;
  • burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle;
  • sudden numbness or weakness, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
  • swelling, rapid weight gain; or
  • feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, feeling light-headed, or hot and dry skin.

Less serious side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about irinotecan (Camptosar)?

Do not use irinotecan if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby.

Irinotecan can cause severe diarrhea, which can be life-threatening if it leads to dehydration. Diarrhea can occur soon after your injection or more than 24 hours later.

Your doctor may recommend you have an anti-diarrhea medicine such as loperamide (Imodium) available at all times while you are receiving irinotecan. Take the anti-diarrhea medication at the first sign of loose or frequent bowel movements.

Call your doctor if you still have diarrhea after 24 hours of taking anti-diarrhea medicine.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using irinotecan, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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