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Topotecan is used for the treatment of cervical cancer, small cell lung cancer, and cancer of the ovaries. 

Cervical cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Various strains of the human papillomavirus (a sexually transmitted infection) play a role in causing most cervical cancer. Early-stage cervical cancer generally produces no signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of more-advanced cervical cancer may include:

  • Watery or bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor
  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse between periods or after menopause 
  • Pelvic pain or pain during intercourse 

Small cell lung cancer starts when the cells of the lungs become abnormal. It is when the cells grow out of control. This is a fast-growing type of lung cancer. It spreads much faster than non-small cell lung cancer. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of SCLC:

  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum
  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Hoarseness
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, laughing, or coughing
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • New onset of wheezing

Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries. The reproductive system of the female contains two ovaries. These ovaries produce eggs as well as the hormone estrogen and progesterone. Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habits such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate
  • Discomfort in the pelvic area 

Topotecan is a chemotherapy prescription that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cancers form when some cells within the body increase irrepressibly and unusually. These cells spread and destroy nearby tissues. Topotecan helps stops the cancer cells from multiplying.

How does the medicine work?

Cancer cells go through a continuous process of change like normal healthy cells and each cell divides into two daughter cells. These cells grow rest and then divide again. Chemotherapy medicines are powerful chemicals intended to interrupt this cycle and stop cells from multiplying and growing. Before a cell divides to make two identical cells, it has to make a copy of its genetic material called DNA. An enzyme called topoisomerase-I helps this process. 

Topotecan is a type of chemotherapy medicine known as a topoisomerase I inhibitor that works by blocking the action of topoisomerase I. This prevents the cells from making copies of their DNA and so stops them from dividing and increasing in numbers. This, in turn, stops the growth of abnormal tissue.

Unfortunately, Topotecan can also affect normal and healthy cells, particularly those that multiply quickly. The most important side effect is on the bone marrow where blood cells are made. This drug can lessen the production of blood cells. Wherein, it leaves people susceptible to infection. Therefore, regular blood tests are needed to monitor the levels of blood cells.

In most chemotherapy treatments, doses are administered in courses at various intervals. It is to let normal cells to recover from the adverse effects of the chemotherapy between doses. During this period, however, cancer cells will also recover and start to replicate again. Successful treatment depends on the administration of the next course of therapy before cancer has regrown to its previous size. The goal is to reduce the amount of cancer with each successive course.

How to use the medication?

This is usually given by a drip into a vein over 30 minutes. The dosage is based on your medical condition, tests, body size, and response to the treatment. 

You may be shown how to use injections at home. If you do not fully understand how to give the injection, do not self-inject this medicine. Properly dispose of used needles and syringes. Each time you give the injection use a different place on your body. Your doctor will let you know the best places on your body to inject the medication. You should not inject in the same place 2 times in a row. You should also not inject this medicine into skin or muscle that is sore, red, injured, or infected. 

Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than the prescription. Remember to take it at the same time and in the same way each day. Take it regularly for the best benefit of this product. Do not suddenly stop this treatment without the consent of your doctor. Your doctor may give you a lower dose and slowly increase it. 

Common and Serious Side Effects

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Temporary hair loss
  • Tired feeling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

Call your doctor right away if you have these:

  • Diarrhea with fever and stomach cramps
  • New or worsening fever, cough, or trouble breathing 
  • Pain or burning when you urinate 
  • Low blood cell counts (chills, skin sores, bleeding or bruising, fever, feeling light-headed, and cold hands or feet)


  • If you ever had an allergic reaction to this medication, let your doctor know. Tell as well if you have any allergies. This drug may contain an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. 
  • If you missed a dose of this prescription, call your doctor right away for instructions. 
  • Topotecan may cause sleepiness and blurred vision. That it may reduce your ability to operate machinery or drive safely. Do not operate machinery or drive until you know how this medicine affects you and you are sure it won’t affect your performance. 
  • If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding women consult your doctor first before using this medication.
  • This should be used with caution in people with decreased kidney or liver function, existing lung disease, or who have previously had radiotherapy treatment to their lungs. 
  • This is not recommended for use in people with severely decreased production of blood cells by the bone marrow, severely decreased kidney function, or severely decreased liver function. 
  • Topotecan must be far from the reach of children. Keep this at a safe place.