It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. It may also cause birth defects if the father is using it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. Female patients should use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment and for at least 6 months after your last dose. Male patients who have female partners should use effective birth control during treatment with this medicine and for at least 3 months after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while receiving the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Talk with your doctor before receiving this medicine if you plan to have children. Some men and women who receive this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).
While you are being treated with topotecan, and after you stop treatment with it, do not have any immunizations (vaccinations) without your doctor's approval. Topotecan may lower your body's resistance, and there is a chance you might get the infection the vaccine is meant to prevent. In addition, other persons living in your household should not take oral polio vaccine, since there is a chance they could pass the polio virus on to you. Also, avoid persons who have taken oral polio vaccine within the past several months. Do not get close to them and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you cannot take these precautions, you should consider wearing a protective face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Topotecan can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are needed for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, painful or difficult urination, severe diarrhea, or stomach pain.
Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Also, check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
This medicine may cause a serious bowel problem called typhlitis (neutropenic enterocolitis), which could be life-threatening. Tell your doctor right away if you have a fever, abdominal or stomach pain, or a low count of white blood cells after receiving this medicine.
This medicine may cause some people to become tired or weak than they are normally. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
If you develop a skin rash or any allergic reaction to this medicine, check with your doctor as soon as possible.
Check with your doctor right away if you start having breathing problems, cough, fast heartbeat, or fever. These could be symptoms of a serious lung problem.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.