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Irinotecan Dosage

Irinotecan Dosage for Combination Treatment

Irinotecan is normally used in combination with leucovorin and 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil®, Carac®, Efudex®, Fluoroplex®, also known as 5-FU) for the first-line treatment of colon or rectal cancer. When used in combination treatment, irinotecan is usually given in one of the following ways:
  • Once a week for four doses, followed by a three-week break
  • Once every other week for three doses, followed by a two-week break.

Irinotecan Dosage as a Single-Agent

Irinotecan is normally used as a single agent for the treatment of colon or rectal cancer that has recurred or progressed after treatment with 5-fluoruracil. When used as a single-agent treatment, irinotecan is usually given in one of the following ways:
  • Once a week for four doses, followed by a two-week break
  • Once every three weeks.
You may experience nausea and vomiting during your irinotecan treatment. Your healthcare provider will likely give you medications to help prevent these symptoms from occurring. You may also experience certain other side effects during your infusion, or for a few hours afterward. Some of the possible side effects can include:
  • Runny nose
  • Watery mouth or eyes
  • Sweating
  • Flushing (sudden redness or warmth of the face, neck, or chest)
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal (stomach) cramps.
Tell your healthcare provider right away if you experience any of the above symptoms. He or she can give you certain medicines to help relieve the symptoms, and to prevent them from occurring with future doses.

General Information on Receiving Irinotecan

Some considerations to keep in mind during treatment with irinotecan include the following:
  • Irinotecan comes as a solution that is administered using an intravenous (IV) infusion (a slow injection into a vein), usually every one to three weeks.
  • The injections are given by a trained healthcare provider, in a healthcare setting, such as a clinic or hospital.
  • Irinotecan injections are given slowly, over approximately 90 minutes. If you are taking other chemotherapy medicines, your total treatment time may be longer. The other chemotherapy medicines are normally given after irinotecan.
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend you take certain other medications before your irinotecan dose to help prevent nausea and vomiting. You may need to continue taking these medicines after your dosage of irinotecan.
  • For this drug to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. It works best if taken on schedule. However, you may need to miss or delay doses if you experience severe side effects.
  • If you are unsure about anything related to your dosage or irinotecan dosing in general, please talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
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