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April 24, 2021

Irinotecan is an injection form of treatment that the FDA has already approved. This is in the class of medicines called antineoplastic or cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs.

What condition does Irinotecan treat?

Irinotecan is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of metastatic colon or rectal cancer. This medicine is categorized as a topoisomerase-I inhibitor and a plant alkaloid. This helps block certain enzymes so that the cancer cells will not be able to increase and spread.

Harmful tumors or cancerous tumors are categorized by cell division. Wherein, it is no longer regulated as it is in typical tissue. The normal cell stops dividing when they interact with a mechanism called contact inhibition. As a result, the cancerous cells mislay this capacity. Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and balances in place that control and limit cell division.


How does Irinotecan work?

The capacity of chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells is based on its capability to stop cell division. Normally, this medicine works by damaging the DNA or RNA that tells the cell how to duplicate in the division. The cells die if they are unable to divide. The faster the cells are increasing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will kill the cells. Wherein, it will cause the tumor to shrink. They will also induce cell suicide or also known as apoptosis.

Irinotecan may also affect healthy cells mostly those that grow fast such as blood cells. The most vital side effect is on the bone marrow where blood cells are completed. This drug reduces the making of blood cells that leaves people vulnerable to infection. Therefore, there is a need for regular blood tests to monitor the levels of blood cells.


What is the dosage of Irinotecan?

The total of the medicine that you will receive is based on several factors including:

  • Your overall health
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Other health problems
  • The type of condition being treated

Your doctor will control your dosage and schedule. Also, this medicine often causes vomiting and nausea. However, you must continue to receive this medication even if you start to feel ill. You may receive other medicines to help with the vomiting and nausea. Ask your doctor for other ways to lessen these effects.

  • This medicine is given by infusion through a vein or intravenously.
  • Irinotecan is an irritant that is a chemical that could cause inflammation of the vein through where it is injected.  If the medicine leaks from the vein it can cause tissue damage.  The doctor or health care professional who will give this medicine should be carefully trained.
  • If you notice swelling or redness as well as experience pain at the injection site where you are receiving the drug, call your health care professional right away.


What are the precautions in using Irinotecan?

  • You may feel dizzy within 24 hours of having this treatment. If affected, you should not operate machinery or drive until the symptoms pass.
  • Stop using this drug if you experience an allergic reaction. Also, let your doctor know if you have any allergies.
  • You must have regular blood tests to monitor your liver function while having this medication.
  • As this drug might be unsafe to an unborn baby, women who might get pregnant must use effective contraception to avoid pregnancy both during treatment and for at least one month after treatment is done.
  • Men must use effective contraception to prevent fathering a child, both during treatment and for at least three months after treatment is done.
  • Your capacity to become pregnant or father a child can be affected by treatment with this medication. It is essential to discuss fertility with your doctor before starting treatment with this medication.

Use Irinotecan with caution in:

  • Elderly people
  • People with asthma
  • People with high levels of a bile pigment made by the liver called bilirubin
  • People with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease
  • People who have previously had radiotherapy

Irinotecan should not be used in:

  • Children
  • People with very high levels of the bile pigment bilirubin that is produced by the liver
  • People with a blockage in the bowel
  • People with kidney problems as well as for people with decreased kidney function
  • People with a severe reduction in blood cell production in the bone marrow

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