You will be given irinotecan in the chemotherapy day unit or during a stay in hospital. A chemotherapy nurse will give it to you. Irinotecan can be given in combination with other cancer drugs.
During treatment you usually see a cancer doctor, a chemotherapy nurse or a specialist nurse, and a specialist pharmacist. This is who we mean when we mention doctor, nurse or pharmacist in this information.
Before or on the day of treatment, a nurse or person trained to take blood (phlebotomist) will take a blood sample from you. This is to check that your blood cells are at a safe level to have chemotherapy.
You will see a doctor or nurse before you have chemotherapy. They will talk to you about your blood results and ask you how you have been feeling. If your blood results are okay, the pharmacist will prepare your chemotherapy. Your nurse will tell you when your treatment is likely to be ready.
Your nurse usually gives you anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs before the chemotherapy. Irinotecan can be given through:
- a short thin tube the nurse puts into a vein in your arm or hand (cannula)
- a fine tube that goes under the skin of your chest and into a vein close by (central line)
- a fine tube that is put into a vein in your arm and goes up into a vein in your chest (PICC line).
Your course of chemotherapy
You usually have a course of several cycles of treatment over a few months. Irinotecan is usually given in treatment cycles lasting 3 weeks (21 days). You have the drug on the first day of each cycle followed by a rest period. You might have irinotecan on its own or in combination with other treatments. Your nurse or doctor will discuss your treatment plan with you.