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What Is Irinotecan?

Irinotecan is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

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

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

Irinotecan can cause severe diarrhea, which can be life-threatening if it leads to dehydration. You may be given medicines to prevent or quickly treat diarrhea.


This medication is used to treat cancer of the colon and rectum.

How to use Irinotecan HCL Vial

This medication is given by injection into a vein by a health care professional. The dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to treatment.

If this medication comes into contact with your skin, wash the skin right away and completely with soap and water. If this medication gets into your eyes, mouth, or nose, flush completely with plenty of water. Consult your doctor for more details.

side effects

  • diarrhea, constipation;
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite;
  • weakness;
  • fever, pain, or other signs of infection;
  • abnormal liver function tests; or
  • temporary hair loss.

Before taking this medicine

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

To make sure irinotecan is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • diabetes;
  • asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, or other breathing disorder;
  • an intestinal disorder or obstruction;


Before starting irinotecan treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).   Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.

Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval while taking irinotecan.

In general the use of laxatives or stool stimulants should be avoided because of the potential for worsening diarrhea.  Discuss any laxative use with your health care professional.

Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (irinotecan) may be hazardous to the fetus.  Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the fetus).