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Topotecan ( Hycamtin)

Brand name : Hycamtin ® 

Generic name: Topotecan 

Therapeutic Class:  Topotecan is classified as an "topoisomerase 1 inhibitor  

Manufacturer / Distributor:  GlaxoSmithKline  

Availability: Topotecan is available by prescription only 

Indications: Topotecan is used to treat:  

  • ovarian cancer after failure of first line or subsequent chemotherapy  
  • Small cell lung cancer that has relapsed or metastasized after treatment with other chemotherapy medications. 

Topotecan may also be prescribed for other medical conditions besides ovarian and small cell lung cancer; talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information on Topotecan.  

Dosage form: Topotecan is given by injection into a vein 

Dosage: in general, your oncologist will consider your condition, the type and severity of the cancer, and your body mass index to prescribe you an effective dosage of Topotecan. If you are taking other chemotherapy drugs, it may also play a role in the choice of the dosage. Usually, Topotecan is injected into a vein over 30 minutes. The drug is given once a day for 5 consecutive days, and then suspended for 16 days. The cycle is then repeated at least 3 times. 

Depending on your body's reaction to the medication, your oncologist may change the dosage. It is important to undergo the therapy completely. Topotecan should be administered with great care by oncologist or medical professional that have experience in chemotherapy drugs. In addition, Topotecan must be given in a hospital or a similar institution that has enough equipment for its preparation.  

Overdose: Topotecan overdose can cause decreased levels of white blood cells in the blood, which can be dangerous in fragile patients. Although rare, an overdose of Topotecan 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 Topotecan 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; Topotecan cause side effects in most patients. Missing a session of the therapy can affect the entire treatment.     

Contraindication : you may not be to take Topotecan if you have :  

  • low number of white blood cells 
  • inadequate production of platelets  
  • severe kidney failure  
  • allergy to Topotecan or any of its ingredients 
  • pregnancy or breastfeeding  
  • severe liver failure.  

Mechanism of action (MOA): Topotecan 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. Topotecan slows or stops growth of cancer cells by interfering with their DNA material needed for reproduction. 


Interactions:  talk you to your doctor before taking prescription or non prescription medications. Some medicines may affect the therapeutic effects of Topotecan, or increase the risk of developing side effects. 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: while attacking cancer cells, Topotecan also affects healthy cells, which lead to, in certain patients, the following side effects:

  •   hair loss 
  •  constipation 
  •  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:    

  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • extreme tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • persistent coughing
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • 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.