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Brand names:


Often used for:

Leukemia, Brain tumors, Neuroblastoma, Sarcomas, Other solid tumors

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About Topotecan

Topotecan is a type of chemotherapy. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cells. It is usually used in combination with other medicines.

Patients will have regular blood draws to check blood counts and monitor liver and kidney function Patients may have regular blood draws to check the amount of topotecan in the blood. The dose of topotecan may change over time based on the amount of drug in your blood.

Topotecan by IV can cause tissue damage if it leaks from the vein. Patients may have irritation at the IV site. Let a caregiver know if there is burning during administration.

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May be taken as a liquid by mouth

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May be taken as a capsule by mouth

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects

  • Diarrhea (can occur within 24 hours or develop later)
  • Low blood counts (may cause increased risk of infection, bleeding, anemia and/or fatigue)
  • Liver problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, aches, fever)
  • Dehydration (especially with diarrhea)
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Mouth sores
  • Lung problems
  • Irritation at the IV site

Not all patients who take topotecan will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Let a doctor know if the patient develops diarrhea.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during treatment and for 6 months after completion of therapy.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Caregivers should follow instructions for safe handling and disposal of chemotherapy and avoid contact with patient body fluids. Patient body fluids can contain the drug for 48 hours after it is given.

Topotecan at home:

  • Topotecan by mouth is usually taken once a day.
  • Store topotecan (liquid or capsules) in the refrigerator. It should be protected from light.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • If vomiting occurs after taking topotecan by mouth, do not give another dose.
  • Liquid topotecan can be mixed with acidic juice (for example: apple, orange, or grape juice) or flavored syrup immediately before it is taken. Syringes for liquid medicine should be thrown away after each use. Do not reuse.
  • Capsules should be swallowed whole. Do not crush, chew, or break before swallowing. A combination of capsules may be needed for the correct dose. Be sure you know what each capsule looks like and how many capsules should be taken.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe handling and disposal.