Ovarian Cancer Home > What Is Topotecan Used For?

Topotecan is designed to treat lung, cervical, and ovarian cancer in adults. It can be used in combination with other chemotherapy medicines, and works by interfering with the normal formation of DNA during the cell division process. On occasion, a healthcare provider may prescribe topotecan for other, unapproved uses (off-label uses). Treating any other type of cancer, for example, is an off-label use for topotecan.

An Overview of Uses for Topotecan

Topotecan (Hycamtin®) is a prescription chemotherapy medication. It is approved for treating the following types of cancer:
 
Topotecan for Lung Cancer
There are two general types of lung cancer -- small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer is much less common than non-small cell lung cancer. Also, small cell lung cancer spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.
 
Because small cell lung cancer spreads so quickly, often the cancer cells have already spread to other parts of the body by the time the cancer is initially diagnosed. In order to reach cancer cells throughout the body, chemotherapy is almost always used. Small cell lung cancer treatment may also include radiation therapy aimed at the tumor in the lung or tumors in other parts of the body (such as in the brain).
 
Some people with small cell lung cancer receive radiation therapy to the brain even though no cancer is found there. This treatment, called prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI), is given to prevent tumors from forming in the brain.
 
Surgery is part of the treatment plan for a small number of people with small cell lung cancer.
 
Topotecan capsules (for oral use) are approved to treat small cell lung cancer that has relapsed (cancer that either completely or partially went away after previous chemotherapy treatment, but has since returned, at least 45 days or more after the initial chemotherapy).
 
Topotecan given intravenously (by IV) is approved to treat small cell lung cancer after the failure of first-line chemotherapy.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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