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Irinotecan Therapy

When undergoing chemotherapy with irinotecan (Camptosar®) to treat colon or rectal cancer, you will receive the medication intravenously (by IV) every one to three weeks. But what is this drug and how does it work?
Irinotecan is a type of topoisomerase I inhibitor. This drug works by blocking the actions of topoisomerase I, which is an enzyme that helps DNA to duplicate. By binding to these enzymes, irinotecan helps to prevent DNA from duplicating and causes the cell to die.
Irinotecan is approved to treat colon or rectal cancer that has spread to other areas in the body (metastasized). It is used as a first treatment, in combination with leucovorin and 5-fluorouracil (Adrucil®, Carac®, Efudex®, Fluoroplex®, also known as 5-FU). It can also be used alone for metastatic colon or rectal cancer that progressed or is recurrent after treatment with fluorouracil.
(For more information on this chemotherapy drug, click What Is Irinotecan Used For?. This article takes an in-depth look at what this drug is used to treat, whether it is safe for use in children, and possible off-label uses.)
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