Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library irinotecan

irinotecan

Pronunciation: EYE ri noe TEE kan

Brand: Camptosar

What is the most important information I should know about irinotecan?

What is the most important information I should know about irinotecan?

Irinotecan can cause severe diarrhea, which can be life-threatening. Call your doctor whenever you have diarrhea during your treatment with irinotecan.

What is irinotecan?

What is irinotecan?

Irinotecan is used to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is usually given with other cancer medicines.

Irinotecan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving irinotecan?

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving irinotecan?

You should not use irinotecan if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • lung disease;
  • an intestinal disorder or obstruction;
  • Gilbert's syndrome;
  • fructose intolerance (irinotecan contains sorbitol);
  • radiation treatment to your abdomen or pelvic area; or
  • if you take a diuretic or "water pill."

Irinotecan can harm an unborn baby if the mother or the father is using this medicine.

  • If you are a woman, you may need to have a negative pregnancy test. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your last dose.
  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 3 months after your last dose.
  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using irinotecan.

Pregnancy may be less likely to occur while the mother or the father is using this medicine. Both men and women should still use birth control to prevent pregnancy because the medicine can harm an unborn baby.

Do not breastfeed while using this medicine, and for at least 7 days after your last dose.

How is irinotecan given?

How is irinotecan given?

Your doctor may recommend a DNA test before your first dose. Some people are genetically more likely to have certain side effects from irinotecan.

Irinotecan is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

This medicine must be given slowly, and the infusion can take up to 90 minutes to complete.

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle.

If any of this medicine gets on your skin, wash right away with soap and water.

Irinotecan can cause severe diarrhea, which can be life-threatening if it leads to dehydration.

Your doctor may recommend keeping anti-diarrhea medicine on hand at all times (such as loperamide or Imodium). Take this medicine at the first sign of loose or frequent bowel movements. Do not take loperamide for longer than 2 full days without your doctor's advice.

Call your doctor whenever you have diarrhea during your treatment with irinotecan.

You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

What happens if I miss a dose?

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your irinotecan injection.

What happens if I overdose?

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using irinotecan?

What should I avoid while using irinotecan?

Avoid using a laxative or stool softener.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

What are the possible side effects of irinotecan?

What are the possible side effects of irinotecan?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe or ongoing vomiting or diarrhea;
  • black or bloody stools;
  • nausea or vomiting that keeps you from drinking enough fluids;
  • sores or white patches in or around your mouth;
  • new or worsening cough or shortness of breath;
  • dehydration symptoms --feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, or hot and dry skin;
  • low blood cell counts --fever, tiredness, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed; or
  • symptoms of sepsis --confusion, fever or chills, severe drowsiness, fast heartbeats, rapid breathing, feeling very ill.

Severe diarrhea may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • fever, pain, mouth sores, or other signs of infection;
  • low blood cell counts, abnormal liver function tests;
  • diarrhea, constipation;
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain;
  • loss of appetite, weight loss;
  • weakness; or
  • hair loss.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect irinotecan?

What other drugs will affect irinotecan?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Many drugs can affect irinotecan. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about irinotecan.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details