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Streptozocin is a type of medicine called antineoplastic or also called cytotoxic. This is used for the treatment of islet cell cancer of the pancreas and carcinoid tumor and syndrome. This is a prescription already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Islet cell cancer is a rare condition but highly treatable type of pancreatic cancer. It begins in the cells of the pancreas that produces insulin and other hormones. This type of cancer can cause the pancreas to produce too much insulin or other hormones. When this happens, the person with this condition may feel weak or dizzy. Islet cell cancer that makes hormones are called functioning tumors. Other islet cell cancer does not make hormones and called non-functioning tumors. The most common symptoms of islet cell cancers are abdominal pain and weight loss. Since the cancers develop from cells that make hormones, about half of islet cell tumors also create hormones. That can cause symptoms related to having too much of that type of hormone in the body.

Carcinoid tumor is noncancerous or cancerous growths that sometimes produce excessive amounts of hormone-like substances which results in the carcinoid syndrome. Carcinoid tumors are usually originated in hormone-producing cells that line the small intestine or other parts of the digestive tract. They can as well produce an excess of hormone-like substances. 

 Carcinoid syndrome is a group of specific symptoms that occur as a result of these hormones. The signs and symptoms of carcinoid syndrome depend on which chemicals the carcinoid tumor secretes into your bloodstream. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Facial skin lesions – purplish areas of spiderlike veins may appear on your nose and upper lip.
  • Skin flushing – the skin on your face and upper chest feels hot and changes color. Flushing episodes may last from a few minutes to a few hours or longer. Flushing may happen for no obvious reason, though sometimes it can be triggered by stress, exercise, or drinking alcohol.
  • Diarrhea – frequent watery stools sometimes accompanied by abdominal cramps may occur in people who have carcinoid syndrome.
  • Rapid heartbeat – periods of a fast heart rate could be a sign of carcinoid syndrome.
  • Difficulty breathing – asthma-like signs and symptoms may occur at the same time you experience skin flushing. 

How It Works

Cancerous tumors are categorized by cell division that is no longer controlled as it is in normal tissue. The normal cells stop dividing when they come into contact with like cells. Cancerous cells lose this ability. Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and balances in place that control and limit cell division. The progression of cell division is through the cell cycle whether normal or cancerous cells. The cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing phases, and then to mitosis. The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt cell division. 

Usually, the drug work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells the cell how to copy itself in the division. If the cells are unable to divide, they die. The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink. They also induce cell suicide.

How To Use

Streptozocin is injected into a vein through an IV. This medicine comes as a powder to be mixed with liquid. It may be injected once a day for 5 days in a row every 6 weeks or it may be injected once a week. The length of treatment depends on how well your body responds to treatment with this prescription. Your doctor may need to delay your treatment or adjust your dose if you experience certain side effects. You need to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with Streptozocin injection.

This drug can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. The treatment of your cancer may be delayed based on the results of these tests. Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur. Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Streptozocin injection.

Side Effects

Common side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Mild nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Swelling, burning, redness, or tenderness at the injection site 

Call your doctor right away if these side effects occur:

  • Confusion
  • Little or no urinating
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Easy bruising or unusual bleeding
  • Fever
  • Swollen gums
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Trouble breathing 
  • Skin sores
  • Pain in your side or lower back 
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver problems 


  • Before starting treatment with Streptozocin, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies. Do not take aspirin or a product that contains aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.
  • Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without the approval of your doctor while taking Streptozocin.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or may be pregnant before starting this treatment. 
  • For both men and women: Do not conceive a child while taking Streptozocin. Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms are recommended. Discuss with your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child after therapy.
  • Do not breastfeed while taking this medication.
  • Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury. 
  • You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking Streptozocin. It is to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work to monitor your complete blood count, as well as the function of other organs, will also be ordered by your doctor.
  • Don’t have immunizations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterward. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor how long you should avoid live vaccinations.
  • You should not forget to inform your doctor if you have any allergies or if you are allergic to this drug.