Colon Cancer Home > Camptosar

Available by prescription only, Camptosar is a type of chemotherapy drug used to treat certain colon and rectum cancers. It is a first-line treatment and can be used alone or with other chemotherapy drugs. Side effects may include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This medication is administered intravenously (by IV) every one to three weeks.

What Is Camptosar?

Camptosar® (irinotecan) is a prescription chemotherapy medication approved to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is used as a first-line treatment in combination with other chemotherapy medicines. It may also be used alone after certain other medicines have been tried and failed.
(Click Camptosar Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Camptosar is manufactured by Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, a division of Pfizer Inc.

How Does Camptosar Work?

Camptosar belongs to a group of medicines known as topoisomerase I inhibitors. Topoisomerase I is an enzyme that helps relax DNA that has been overwound, which can occur when DNA is duplicating so cells can divide. It does this by breaking the DNA strand to relieve the strain and then putting the strand back together. Camptosar binds to topoisomerase I and prevents the enzyme from repairing the broken DNA, and this causes the cell to die.

When and How to Use It

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with Camptosar include the following:
  • Camptosar comes as a solution that is administered using an intravenous (IV) infusion (a slow injection into a vein), usually every one to three weeks.
  • The injections are given by a trained healthcare provider, in a healthcare setting.
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend you take certain other medications before your Camptosar dose to help prevent nausea and vomiting.
  • For this drug to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. It works best if taken on schedule. However, you may need to miss or delay doses if you experience severe side effects.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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