Hycamtin (Topotecan)

Warning: This drug may cause serious blood disorders. Decreased bone marrow function may cause low blood counts of the red, white and platelets. Your ability to fight infection may decrease and you may develop anemia and bruise/bleed easier. Tell your doctor if you develop any signs of infection, as well as easier bruising/bleeding, unusual tiredness and fast/pounding heartbeat.

You will have to have your blood count monitored regularly, so keep all laboratory appointments.

Indications: Hycamtin is for the treatment of the cancer of the ovaries and lungs when other medications haven’t been successful. It may also be used alongside cisplatin to treat cancer of the cervix.

There are some other known treatments for this medication, but are not recommended by the manufacturer. Do not use unless prescribed by your doctor. It may be used for other types of cancer, such as bone cancer.

Dosage:  This medication is prescribed in two ways, either orally or by injection. If you are prescribed to take it orally you usually take it once a day for five days. This time is called a cycle. You usually repeat a cycle every 21 days. Your dosage will depend on your body size, reaction to therapy and laboratory tests.

If your doctor prescribes Hycamtin to be injected you will use it intravenously. Always read instructions and dosage instructions before use. If the treatment comes in contact with the skin, wash immediately with soap and water.

Overdose: Overdosing Hycamtin can cause decreased levels of white blood cells in the blood, which can be dangerous in fragile patients. Although rare, an overdose of Hycamtin may also lead to kidney problems. If you think you have been given an overdose or you experience abnormal symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.

Missing dose: the fact that Hycamtin is administered in hospital, missing dose is basically difficult if you respect your doctor’s appointments. Therefore, If for some reasons you cannot go to the hospital for the treatment, contact your oncologist before the date you are scheduled for the injection. Do not stay home because you are experience side effects; Hycamtin  cause side effects in most patients. Missing a session of the therapy can affect the entire treatment.

Contraindications: Tell your doctor and pharmacist of all known allergies you have, as you may be allergic to the inactive ingredients of this medication.

Consult with your doctor about any known immune disorders you have, such as neutropenia. Also tell them about any blood/bone marrow disorders, kidney disease and liver disease that you have.

Hycamtin may make you dizzy. Do not do any activity that requires you to be alert, such as operating machinery and driving.

Pregnant women and women planning on becoming pregnant should avoid taking Hycamtin, as it is known to cause birth defects and sometimes death.

Do not have any immunizations without first consulting your doctor. Don’t have any contact with people that have recently had the flu vaccination through the nose or the oral polio vaccination. Avoid contact sports and other vigorous activities as you may be more susceptible to bleeding profusely and bruising more heavily.

Mechanism of action (MOA): Hycamtin belongs to the class of chemotherapeutic drugs known as topoisomerase type 1 inhibitor. Normally, before a cell divides into two, its DNA is copied and each daughter cell receives a copy. Hycamtin slows or stops growth of cancer cells by interfering with their DNA material needed for reproduction.

Interactions: Your doctor should be aware of all medications you are taking before prescribing you any medication. Do not take anything containing phenytoin. You should also avoid consuming tumeric as it may cause the drug to be less effective.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications:

  • carboplatin (Paraplatin)
  • cisplatin (Platinol)
  • filgrastim (Neupogen)
  • All other chemotherapy medications.

Side effects: Hycamtin also affects healthy cells, which lead to, in certain patients, the following side effects:

  • constipation
  • hair loss
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin rash
  • mouth sores
  • stomach or back pain
  • decreased appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • runny nose
  • nail changes
  • fatigue or weakness
  • Unusual fever or chills accompanied by cough or hoarseness

If the side effects above persist for weeks, contact your oncologist. In addition, contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • extreme tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • persistent coughing
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • sudden low or high blood pressure
  • severe depression symptoms
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the hands or feet
  • skin problems: hives, rash, itching, etc.
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs

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