Because CAMPTOSAR can work on the enzyme in any cell, it can damage healthy cells as well as cancer cells. So the quickest reproducing cells are the ones most likely to be damaged. These fast- growing, healthy cells include red and white blood cells (which are made in the bone marrow), and cells of the lining of the mouth, stomach, and intestines, and hair follicles. Some signs of damage to these cells are anemia, a low red blood cell count, diarrhea, and hair loss.
The body may recognize many substances to be poisonous, including powerful medicines. A "control center" in the brain signals the body to get rid of things that might be dangerous. One way to rid the body of these "poisons," or powerful medicines, is by vomiting. Because cancer drugs are poisonous to cancer cells, they often trigger the control-center signal. Even if you haven't eaten something but you've had an injection, the signal to vomit or to feel nauseated can still be triggered.
Different drugs have different effects. The following sections cover the most common side effects of treatment with CAMPTOSAR.
Many patients have diarrhea at least once during their treatment with CAMPTOSAR. This is a medical problem like any other, and you should not be embarrassed to discuss it with your doctor or nurse. When diarrhea is treated quickly and correctly, it is less likely to become severe.
There may be two types of diarrhea associated with CAMPTOSAR. One type starts during or within hours of getting the treatment intravenously. The other type generally starts 2 to 6 days after an intravenous treatment. The causes of these two types of diarrhea are different, so different medicines are used to treat them.
It is very important not to let diarrhea get out of control. Diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days, especially when vomiting is also a problem, can cause dehydration (water loss), which will usually require rehydration (water replacement) in the hospital. The chart in the "What You Should Do About Side Effects" section shows you what to do when diarrhea starts.
There are many kinds of white blood cells. One kind, called neutrophils, are part of the immune system and help fight infections. Because neutrophils reproduce all the time, they are affected by many types of chemotherapy, including CAMPTOSAR. When new cells can't be made and the number of neutrophils drops below your normal level, it's harder for the body to fight infections. This condition is called neutropenia.
If your cancer requires you to receive many chemotherapy treatments, and your body is unable to make enough new neutrophils between treatments, you may develop neutropenia and be more susceptible to infections. The timing of chemotherapy is an important medical decision and sometimes it's necessary to have frequent treatments to have the best chance of killing the cancer. If this is your situation, you may be given a drug to help you make more neutrophils so you won't get neutropenia and can continue treatments.
It's important if you are taking chemotherapy to try to prevent infections and to treat infections right away - so tell your doctor about fevers, coughs, and any other signs of sickness.
Some patients may become nauseated or actually vomit while being treated with CAMPTOSAR. If you get sick during a treatment, your future treatments may include medicines that will help prevent you from getting sick again. Other medicines also can help you if you get nauseated or vomit after a treatment; your doctor can give you a prescription for one.
It is very important for you to ask for medicine to control any nausea or vomiting, not only because you will feel better but also because this may help you to keep fluids down and prevent dehydration.
Many people who get treated with CAMPTOSAR lose some hair. About one third of the people lose a small amount of hair and another third lose most or all of their hair. The hair loss is usually temporary and the hair grows back. Although hair loss can be very upsetting, it isn't dangerous. Remember that how much hair you lose is not related to how sick you are or to how well your treatment is working.
It is a good idea to have pictures showing clearly what your hair looks like before you begin therapy. Then if you lose hair and decide you want a wig or toupee, a hair stylist can make it look as much like your natural hair as possible.
Besides the side effects already mentioned, some people have experienced the following: weakness, pain, fever, headache, chills, loss of appetite and weight loss, water retention, shortness of breath, coughing, dizziness, or trouble sleeping. It is likely that some of these problems were caused by the drug and some by the cancer. About 1 in 25 clinical trial volunteers stopped taking CAMPTOSAR because of side effects.