Precautions

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests are 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 during treatment with this medicine and for at least 6 months after the 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 using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.

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 necessary 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 right away if you think you are getting an infection or if you have a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
  • Check with your doctor right away 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. 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 using this medicine.

Topotecan may cause diarrhea, and in some cases it can be severe. Do not take any medicine to treat diarrhea without first checking with your doctor. Diarrhea medicines may make the diarrhea worse or make it last longer. If you have any questions about this or if mild diarrhea continues or gets worse, check with your doctor.

This medicine may cause some people to become more tired or weaker than they are normally. If either of these side effects occurs, do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Check with your doctor right away if you have breathing problems, cough, fever, or fast heartbeat. 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.