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Streptozocin (Zanosar)

Find out what streptozocin is, how you have it and other important information about having streptozocin.

Streptozoin is a treatment for carcinoid tumour. Its brand name is Zanosar. It isn't licensed in the UK but you might have it as part of research trials.

How streptozocin works

Streptozocin is a type of chemotherapy drug called a nitrosourea. It works by sticking to one of the cancer cell's DNA strands so the cell can't divide into 2 new cells.

How you have streptozocin

You have the treatment through a drip into your arm. A nurse puts a small tube (a cannula) into one of your veins and connects the drip to it.

You might need a central line. This is a long plastic tube that gives the drugs into a large vein, either in your chest or through a vein in your arm. It stays in while you’re having treatment, which may be for a few months.

When you have steptozocin

You usually have streptozocin for 5 days every 6 weeks. Or you might have it every week for 6 weeks. Each treatment takes about 1 to 2 hours. 

Some people can't have streptozocin. Your doctor is not likely to recommend it if you are not well enough to spend more than half the day up and about. It may also not be possible for you to have it if you have significant kidney or liver problems.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.


Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Pregnancy and contraception

This treatment might harm a baby developing in the womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment and for a few months afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.


You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.


Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Last reviewed: 
18 Sep 2015
  • MedLine Plus 
    Accessed September 2015

  • Chemocare
    Accessed September 2015

  • Cochrane Library
    Accessed September 2015

  • Letter to drug prescribers from Chief Pharmaceutical Officer and Chief Medical Officer in Wales, Oct 25th 2013 - Zostavax and biological therapies  


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