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Thiotepa (TESPA,TSPA)

Article Translations: (Spanish)

How does this medicine work?

Thiotepa (thi-oh-tep-ah) is used to treat certain types of cancer. It destroys cancer cells' ability to divide.

How is it given?

Thiotepa is given into a vein (IV) during a hospital stay.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Thiotepa cannot be given when the patient is receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Protein in the TPN may interfere with how the body breaks down the thiotepa. On the days thiotepa is given, and for 24 hours afterward, regular IV fluids are given.

What are the side effects?

Common

  • low blood cell counts
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting
  • mouth and throat sores
  • hair loss
  • rash, itching
  • darkened, peeling skin
  • increased sun sensitivity
  • infertility

Occasional

  • stomach ulcers
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • sleepiness
  • severe skin breakdown
  • blurred vision

Rare

  • hives
  • bleeding in the bladder
  • if child has had previous radiation to the head: behavior changes, forgetfulness, confusion
  • liver injury
  • kidney injury

When should I call the doctor?

  • fever or chills
  • rash
  • redness or breakdown of skin
  • mouth sores
  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • signs of an allergic reaction:
    • rash or hives
    • wheezing
    • trouble breathing - call 911

What else do I need to know?

All caregivers should wear gloves when handling urine, stool, and vomit while your child is receiving the chemotherapy and for 48 hours afterward. Urine, stool, and vomit can be safely disposed of in septic tanks and the sewer system.

Any clothing or bed linens that are contaminated with urine, stool, or vomit should be washed separately from other laundry in hot water and detergent. Anyone handling the contaminated laundry should wear gloves.

Report any signs of an allergic reaction during the infusion.

Thiotepa is present in sweat for 24 hours after a dose. Sweat can collect in the creases of the body. Bathing is required 4 times a day during the infusion and for the next 24 hours to prevent severe breakdown of the skin.

Clothing should be loose-fitting and minimal. This keeps sweat from collecting at tight fitting spots such as elastic around the waist. Your child should not wear tight-fitting jewelry such as rings, watches, and necklaces.

Skin breakdown may be worse at previous radiation sites. Tape and dressings may also contribute to severe skin breakdown, so they should not be used on the skin. Do not use creams, ointments, or lotions on the skin.

Infants should have a diaper change every 2 hours.

Children who have had radiation to their head may experience severe yet temporary somnolence syndrome, which may include:

  • amnesia
  • short-term memory loss
  • hallucinations

Prevent sunburn. During treatment and for one year after, your child should wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), a hat, and protective clothing when outdoors.

Questions?

This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the oncology clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Last reviewed 8/2015 

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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