As a type of topoisomerase I inhibitor, irinotecan (Camptosar®) can help treat colon or rectal cancer by disrupting cell division. Specifically, this medication works by binding to topoisomerase I, an enzyme in the body that is responsible for helping DNA to duplicate. Irinotecan blocks the actions of topoisomerase I, preventing this enzyme from repairing a broken DNA strand. Because the DNA strand is unable to replicate, the cell cannot divide and eventually dies.
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, and can be used alone or with certain other chemotherapy drugs.
(To learn more about this topoisomerase I inhibitor, click Irinotecan. This resource explores this chemotherapy drug in more detail, including dosing guidelines, potential side effects, and warnings on who may not be able to use this drug safely.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Camptosar [package insert]. New York, NY: Pharmacia & Upjohn Company;2011 June.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed January 17, 2012.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 8th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2008.
National Library of Medicine (US). Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?HSDB. Accessed January 18, 2012.
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