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Irinotecan is a drug given to treat colon and rectal cancer. It can be used alone or in combination with other chemotherapy medications. It is administered intravenously (by IV) every one to three weeks. Although some people do not have problems with this drug, most people will experience side effects, such as diarrhea or vomiting, while undergoing treatment.

What Is Irinotecan?

Irinotecan (Camptosar®) is a prescription chemotherapy medication approved to treat cancer of the colon or rectum. It is used as a first-line treatment in combination with other chemotherapy medicines. It may also be used alone after certain other medicines have been tried and failed.
 
(Click What Is Irinotecan Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Are There Side Effects?

Just like any medicine, irinotecan can cause side effects. In fact, most people will experience some type of side effect during irinotecan treatment. As with other chemotherapy medicines, the reactions can be severe. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to help manage any problems you develop.
 
Some of the common side effects of this medication may include:
 
  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)
  • Low white blood cell counts
  • Low blood platelets
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting.
 
(Click Irinotecan Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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