Hycamtin; An Overview of Lung Cancer Therapy

There is no question that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer with more than 85% of all lung cancer related deaths attributed to lighting up. When facing the battle of lung cancer, the oncologist will recommend a variety of treatment options including chemotherapy. When considering the options, inquire as to the use of the cancer related drug, Hycamtin. With appropriate dosing, monitoring of contraindications and knowledge of side effects, Hycamtin works as a secondary line of treatment in the fight against lung cancer.

Hycamtin, a product of SmithKline Beecham, is used in combination with chemotherapy or as a secondary line of treatment when chemotherapy fails. Commonly used in the treatment of small cell lung cancer in addition to the treatment of ovarian cancer, the oncologist may refer to Hycamtin as its chemical name, topotecan hydrochloride. With Hycamtin, the potential for improving small cell lung cancer related symptoms is significant in terms of relieving chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of appetite.

Hycamtin is administered intravenously (IV) generally within a 30 minute period and can be done in the oncologists office. The FDA has recommended administration of Hycamtin, in the treatment of small cell lung cancer, to include five days of treatment every 21 days with four to six repeat sessions extending up to five months. Based on the extent and nature of lung cancer involved, the oncologist will make the determination as to what duration of therapy is appropriate.

Hycamtin, in the treatment of small cell lung cancer, does not come without side effects. These side effects, unfortunately, are not an indication of the success of the therapy. For the cancer therapy patient, the most significant side effect of Hycamtin is the impact on the blood cell count as a reduction in white and red blood cells can lead to decreased immune response, increased bruising and bleeding and lead to increased fatigue. In general, the side effects of Hycamtin are similar to that of traditional chemotherapy especially within the 48 hours following the beginning of treatment and extending through to the 48 hours following the fifth day of treatment. During the periods in which treatment is not administered, side effects will dissipate.
As with most intravenous medications, Hycamtin may be contraindicated with other health conditions and medications. However, as Hycamtin’s primary focus is to work against the potentially fatal small cell lung cancer, the risk and contraindications do not outweigh the benefits of using this medication. However, all health conditions should be discussed with your physician in addition to discussion of all prescribed and over the counter medications as the effectiveness of Hycamtin may be compromised with certain medication combinations.

As with any cancer risk, prevention is the key to maintaining good health. For the cancer patient suffering from small cell lung cancer, the battle against the disease is daunting and challenging. When faced with the battle against lung cancer, consider all options and forms for chemotherapy treatment including the dual use, or secondary use, of intravenous Hycamtin.

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