Camptosar (Irinotecan)

Warning: Camptosar can cause a number of side effects, some of which may be quite serious. Fragile patients can be at higher risk of severe toxicity and severe and occasionally life-threatening diarrhea when taking Camptosar . Patients with diarrhea should be carefully monitored and given fluid and electrolyte replacement if they become dehydrated, or antibiotic therapy if they develop ileus, fever, or severe low number of white blood cells.

Indications:  Camptosar is a liquid medication administered into a patient’s vein during chemotherapy treatments for cancer of the rectum or colon, or for other cancers related to the large intestine.  This particular drug is an antineoplastic medication and part of thetopoisomerase I inhibitor drug class.  Also known as Irinotacan, Campator and other antineoplastic (anti-cancer) drugs are used to stop the growth of cancer cells.  The drug can be taken alone or in combination with other anti-cancer drugs such as 5-FU (fluorouracil).

Dosage:  The Camptosar dosage you will receive over the course of cancer treatment will be determined on an individual basis by a physician experienced in the use of antineoplastic (anti-cancer) drugs.  A doctor will determine the appropriate dosage based on patient body size and current medical condition; dosage may be adjusted over the course of treatment depending on how well you respond to Camptosar. To manage your Camptosar treatment, your doctor will order a number of tests to closely monitor how you are responding to the drug.  To avoid potentially dangerous complications, be sure to let your doctor know immediately if you experience any of the side effects listed in your drug information packet.  Once again, you should never administer a Camptosar dose to yourself; it must be administered by a doctor or nurse on a carefully managed schedule.

Note that Hours after receiving a  Camptosar injection, some cancer patients may experience runny nose, increased saliva, shrinking pupils, watery eyes, sweating, flushing, diarrhea or mild stomach cramps; this does not mean you are overdosed. Most patients experience those side effects.

Contraindications: Comptosar is contraindicated by the following conditions: anemia, decreased blood platelets, accute inflammation of the pancreas, chronic lung disease, lownumber of white blood cells, inflammatory bowel disease and blocked bowels with no movement. If you are a woman producing milk or breastfeeding, your doctor may recommend a course of treatment that does not include Comptosar.  Ask your doctor for a complete list of contraindications.

Interactions:   The drugs most likely to interact with Camptosar are those that affect liver enzymes; any medication that removes irinotacan from your body should not be taken at this time.  Some of the medications that should not be taken while receiving Camptosar include antiseizure medications (such as Phenobarbital and phenytoin), rifamycins (such as rifabutin), ketoconzole, diuretics, and laxatives. You should discontinue using St. John’s wort at least two weeks before beginning your Comptosar treatments.

You should also avoid food that has tumeric in it. while you still taking the medication, do not take any food supplement without first talking to your health care provider. If you have additional questions about what medications and other substances might interact with Camptosar, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Side effects: by stopping the growth of cancer cells, Camptosar also interfere with your healthy cells that multiply quickly; this often cause adverse effects.  Common Camptosar side effects include:

  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • Perte des cheveux
  • heartburn
  • weight loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • decreased appetite
  • formation of sores in the mouth
  • Bowel disorders (constipation or diarrhea).

Although rare, Camptosar can cause serious side effects which require immediate medical attention; contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • severe high blood pressure
  • severe clinical depression
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • painful or difficulty swallowing
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • skin disorders such as rash, hives or itching
  • Swelling of your arms, feet, ankles, or lower legs.


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