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Topotecan is used to treat patients with ovarian cancer after failure of first-line of therapy or subsequent therapy and in some cases of lung cancer and cervical cancer where the cancer has recurred after successful initial treatment.

How it works

Topotecan belongs to class of medications called topoisomerase I inhibitors. It acts by prohibiting the DNA replication and results in death of the cancer cells.

Common side effects

Decreased white blood cell count (neutrophils), Abdominal pain, Anemia, Constipation, Hair loss, Skin rash, Hypersensitivity reaction, Infection, Loss of appetite, Inflammation of the moist tissue that lines several parts of the body, Nausea, Reduced blood platelets, Decreased white blood cell count, Vomiting, Diarrhoea


Expert advice

  • Before you take topotecan, inform your doctor if have /are being treated for kidney disease.
  • If you are undergoing a surgery including dental surgery, do inform your doctor that you are being treated with topotecan.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery as topotecan may cause tiredness, drowsiness or weakness.
  • Take precautions while using topotecan as it may cause severe diarrhea requiring hospitalization.
  • You should get your blood count monitored regularly to check for any signs of serious infections.
  • Stop using topetecan and immediately report any pulmonary symptoms indicative of interstitial lung disease (e.g. cough, fever, dyspnoea and/or hypoxia).
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. How often is topotecan given?
Generally topotecan treatment is for 4 cycles of 21 day each, patient is given topotecan for first 5 days of each cycle.
Q. Does topotecan cause hair loss?
Yes, Topotecan may cause temporary hair loss.
Q. Does topotecan cause flare reaction?
Yes, Topotecan may cause flare reaction.
Q. How long does topotecan take to work?
The drug may start its action once the infusion is started, however, the complete effect may be assessed only after completion of 4 cycles.
Q. Is topotecan a vesicant? 
Topotecan is a vesicant (irritant).
Q. Is topotecan effective/ effective in ovarian cancer? 
Yes topotecan is effective if used at prescribed doses for the prescribed duration as advised by your doctor.
Q. What is topotecan chemotherapy?
It is a treatment therapy that includes topotecan with or without combination of other drugs in treatment of cancer (Usually ovarian or lung cancer).
Q. How is topotecan administered?
Topotecan is either administered orally as a capsule or as an intravenous Infusion in the arm over a period of 30 min.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)