Irinotecan Chemotherapy Drug For Colon Cancer Treatment

Irinotecan is a anti-cancer drug that is used in chemotherapy. It is also classified as a plant alkaloid and topoisomerase I inhibitor. This drug is used to treat colon cancer or rectal that has metastasized or spread.

Visual representation of colon cancer in a large intestine

Availability, dosage and administration

Irinotecan is not available in pill form and is administered intravenously. The amount of irinotecan that is given depends on factors like a person’s height and weight and also their overall health.


300 mg/15 ml


As a single agent
350 mg/m2 for 90 minutes every three weeks
In combination with fluorouracil and leucovorin
180 mg/m2 for 90 minutes every three weeks

Side effects

Most people do not experience side effects while being treated with irinotecan. Even if side effects occur they are predictable in terms of their onset and duration. These side effects are almost always reversible and will go after the treatment is complete. The most common side effects are listed below.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth sores
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness
  • Low red blood counts
  • Hair loss
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Flatulence
  • Rash
  • Heartburn
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Flushing of face during infusion
  • Low white blood cell counts
  • Chills and flu-like symptoms


  • Before starting irinotecan treatment, inform your doctor about other medications that you might be taking.
  • Do not take any kind of vaccination or immunization without informing your doctor.
  • Avoid the use of laxatives or stool stimulants as it can worsen diarrhea.
  • Inform your doctor before starting the irinotecan treatment if you are pregnant. Irinotecan is hazardous for the fetus.
  • Do not conceive a child while on irinotecan treatment. This applies to both men and women.
  • Do not breastfeed while on treatment of irinotecan.

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