Colon Cancer Home > Camptosar and Pregnancy

In general, Camptosar (irinotecan) is considered unsafe for use during pregnancy. When this drug was given to pregnant rats and rabbits, it increased the risk for miscarriages and birth defects. However, a healthcare provider may still prescribe it during pregnancy if he or she believes the benefits to the pregnant woman outweigh the risks to the unborn child.

Can Pregnant Women Receive Camptosar?

Camptosar® (irinotecan) is a prescription chemotherapy medication used to treat cancer of the colon or rectum. This medication is generally considered unsafe for use in pregnancy. This is because, based on the results of animal studies, it may cause miscarriage or birth defects.

What Is Pregnancy Category D?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Camptosar is classified as a pregnancy Category D medication.
Pregnancy Category D is a classification given to medicines that have been shown to present a risk to the fetus in studies of pregnant women, but may still offer benefits that outweigh the risks the drug presents. A pregnancy Category D medicine may still be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the woman outweigh the possible risks to her unborn child.
Camptosar has not been studied in pregnant women. It is considered a pregnancy Category D medication because it caused problems when given to pregnant animals. In these animal studies, the drug increased the risk for miscarriage and a variety of birth defects when given to pregnant rats and rabbits. In addition, when given to pregnant rats during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, Camptosar decreased learning ability and body weight in the offspring.
Because of the potential for fetal harm, this drug is generally not recommended for use in pregnant women. However, because colon and rectal cancer are potentially fatal, there may be times when the medication is recommended during pregnancy despite the potential risks.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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