Drug: Irinotecan (Camptosar) to treat NSCLC

Irinotecan (Camptosar)Chemotherapy has been shown to provide benefit in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death among both men and women in the United States. Irinotecan is an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug and classified as a plant alkaloid. It is used in combination with other medications to treat small cell lung cancer. The trade name of irinotecan is Camptosar.

How does it work?

The medication works by blocking the enzyme which divides and grows into two new cells. So, when that enzyme is blocked by Irinotecan, the cancer cells cannot divide and grow.  As cancer cells divide fast, they are likely to be affected by this drug.

How is it given?

Irinotecan is injected into a vein through an IV and IV infusion can take up to 90 minutes. Usually, it is not given for more than once a week. Your doctor will choose the best schedule according to your health conditions and the severity of cancer. You should tell your doctor about how you feel during the treatment with this medication.

Possible side effects of Irinotecan:

We have listed possible side effects with this drug. Some people may not experience any side effects at all while some may have any of these listed. You should talk to your doctor or nurse about managing the side effects.


Diarrhea is a common side effect of irinotecan. It can be accompanied with watery eyes, excess saliva, sweating or cramping. It can continue to occur for 10-12 days after the treatment.

Drop in blood cells

One gets the risk of infection from drop in white blood cells. You may experience headaches, cough, and aching muscles or may feel sore throat. Due to drop in red blood cells, you may have tiredness and breathlessness.


Patients taking Irinotecan have complained of having nausea and vomiting. A change is dietary plan may help.

Occasional Side Effects:

  • Liver changes
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of fertility
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Stomach pain

This is not a complete list of side effects and one may experience other side effects as well. You should call your doctor for medical device.

The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only.

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