Topotecan (Hycamtin)

The Basics:

Topotecan (brand name-Hycamtin) is an FDA-approved treatment for small cell lung cancer (a type of cancer that begins in the lungs), ovarian, and cervical cancer. This is used when cancer has come back after being treated successfully with a different chemotherapy medicine, and this recurrence has happened no sooner than 45 days after the last dose of the first chemotherapy medicine was taken.

Topotecan is in a class of medications called topoisomerase I inhibitors. It works by killing cancer cells.

Let us walk you through the key things you need to know about topotecan.

Make sure you read the IMPORTANT WARNING section at the end of this article.

How should I take topotecan (Hycamtin)

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Topotecan comes as a capsule to take by mouth with or without food once a day. Take topotecan at around the same time every day. Take topotecan exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or more often than your doctor prescribes.

Swallow the capsules whole with water; do not open, chew, or crush them. Topotecan capsules come in two different strengths. Your doctor may want you to take a combination of both strengths of capsules to make up your full dose.

If any of the capsules are broken or leaking, do not touch them with your bare hands. Carefully dispose of the broken capsules without touching them directly and then wash your hands well with soap and water. Call your doctor if you have any skin reactions or if medication gets in your eyes.

Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with topotecan. You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.

What are the side effects of topotecan (Hycamtin)?

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Use the free Ankr platform or Ankr app to track your symptoms.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking topotecan or Hycamtin

  • tell your doctor about your allergies
  • tell your doctor about other intakes
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are taking topotecan. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods you can use during treatment.

While you are on toptecan or Hycamtin

  • if you become pregnant while taking topotecan, call your doctor immediately. Topotecan may harm the fetus.
  • tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You should not breast-feed while you are taking topotecan.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking topotecan.
  • you should know that topotecan can cause severe diarrhea that may need to be treated in a hospital.

I forgot a dose. What should I do?

Skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. Let your doctor know if you miss a dose.

In case of an emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

How should I safely store and dispose of Topotecan or Hycamtin?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it in the refrigerator and protect it from light.

The best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Brand names
  • Hycamtin®

Last Revised – 04/15/2023, FDA-updated- 07/15/2015, SG

Topotecan may cause a decrease in the number of blood cells made by your bone marrow. This increases the risk that you will develop a serious infection. You should not take topotecan if you already have a low number of blood cells. Your doctor will order laboratory tests regularly before and during your treatment to check whether your body has enough blood cells. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: sore throat, chills, fever, cough, burning or painful urination, or other signs of infection; stomach pain; unusual bruising or bleeding; excessive tiredness; headache; dizziness; confusion; pale skin; fast heartbeat; or shortness of breath.

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain tests to check your body’s response to topotecan.

Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking topotecan.

Get 24×7 support for topotecan (Hycamtin)

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DISCLAIMER: No part of this content constitutes medical advice, opinion, or should be used for medical decision making without consultation with a licenced medical practitioner and under a patient-provider relationship. All information on the website is provided without any claims of accuracy. For full terms and conditions, visit this link. Content curated by the Ankr team.

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