How does this medicine work?

Topotecan (toh-poh-tee-kan) is a chemotherapy medicine that destroys cancer cells by interfering with a specific phase of cell life.

How is it given?

It is given into the vein (IV) in the hospital or clinic. Sometimes it is given intrathecally (into the spinal fluid).

What are the side effects?

For patients receiving IV topotecan:


  • low blood counts
  • fatigue
  • mild nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • hair loss


  • mouth sores
  • rash
  • fever and flu-like symptoms
  • headaches
  • low blood pressure
  • shortness of breath


  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • kidney or liver problems
  • signs of allergic reaction:
    • fever or chills
    • rash or hives
    • wheezing
    • trouble breathing

For patients receiving intrathecal topotecan:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • headaches


  • seizures
  • paralysis
  • changes in the brain tissue seen on MRIs, which may indicate learning disabilities

When should I call the clinic?

Call hematology helpline 982403210 if:

  • fever
  • chills
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • bleeding or unusual bruising
  • severe fatigue
  • mouth sores
  • skin rash or irritation
  • continued vomiting or diarrhea
  • severe headache
  • trouble breathing (call 112)

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Blood samples may be needed to check the effects of the medicine. Blood counts are lowest at 1 to 2 weeks after the medicine is given. Kidney and liver function tests are also done.

It is important to take good care of the mouth to help prevent mouth sores.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. It is important to share this information with anyone involved in your child’s care.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call:

Hematology Clinic
3rd floor, Kedar
Opp.Krupa Petrol Pump,
Parimal Garden, Ambawadi
Clinic: 07926463219
Whattsapp: 8238065890