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What is Hycamtin®?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Hycamtin® is a prescription medication used to treat certain types of lung, cervical, and ovarian cancer. It is occasionally given as part of the first course of cancer treatment, but in most cases Hycamtin® is prescribed after chemotherapy has failed to eradicate tumors from the body. The drug is available in capsule form and intravenous injections that are usually given in daily doses for a set period of time. The risk of side effects and infections can be high, so careful monitoring and frequent checkups are important while a patient is on the medication.

Cancer proliferates in the body when cells do not expire normally. Instead of dying and being replaced with new cells, cancerous cells begin to replicate wildly, resulting in a tumor. Hycamtin® works by disrupting DNA sequences in affected cells, which triggers cell death. The medication has been found effective against small cell lung cancer and carcinomas in the ovaries and cervix. A doctor may also prescribe the drug for cancer in another part of the body if other treatments are ineffective.

Doctors' main concern about Hycamtin® is the fact that the drug can also attack healthy cells in the body, most importantly white blood cells in bone marrow. When the medication depletes white blood cell counts, the risks of infection and anemia increase significantly. The most common side effects when taking Hycamtin® are flu-like symptoms, body aches, abdominal cramps, nausea, and fatigue. A patient may notice that he or she bleeds and bruises easily due to blood thinning. Rarely, allergic reactions can occur that cause hives, throat swelling, and serious breathing difficulties.

Most doctors prefer to administer intravenous injections rather than prescribing capsules so dosages can be controlled and symptoms carefully monitored. In a hospital, doctor's office, or clinic, a trained professional injects between 0.25 and 1.5 milligrams of Hycamtin® into the patient's arm. Dosages are normally administered daily for five days, followed by 21 days without medication. The course is typically repeated three or four times, and then a doctor can reassess symptoms. Oral capsules can be taken at home with similar dosing instructions.

It is essential to take Hycamtin® exactly how it is prescribed to minimize the risk of adverse effects. Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can react with Hycamtin®, so a doctor should be consulted before taking any other drugs. When the medication is used properly, it is often very effective at lowering the number of cancerous cells and reducing the chances of tumors spreading to other parts of the body.

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