Brand Names

Hycamtin®. There may be other brand names for this medication.

How is it Administered?

Your medicine will be given by given by injection (infusion) into a vein (intravenous or IV).

What is it Used For?

Topotecan is used to treat ovarian, cervical, or lung cancer that has spread, and that did not improve after treatment with other chemotherapy medications.

How Does it Work?

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Both normal and cancer cells go through cycles (resting, growing, and division/reproduction). Your chemotherapy schedule (cycle) is based upon your cancer type, how fast your cells divide, and when each drug is the most effective.

Topotecan is a type of plant alkaloid called a topoisomerase inhibitor; it attacks during certain stages of the cell cycle. If the cells are unable to reproduce, they die.

The faster cells are reproducing, the more likely it is that chemo will damage/kill the cells. Unfortunately, chemo may also affect normal cells that normally reproduce quickly. The cells most likely to be affected are hair follicles, blood cells, and the cells that line the digestive tract (mouth, stomach, intestines). These normal cells will eventually grow back and be healthy. During treatment, however, you may experience side effects such as hair loss, low blood counts, and nausea.

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