Cetuximab injection is used with or without radiation therapy or other medications to treat a certain type of cancer of the head and neck. Cetuximab is also used alone or in combination with other medications to treat a certain type of cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum that has spread to other parts of the body. Cetuximab is in a class of medications called monoclonal antibodies. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.
Side Effects Of Cetuximab Injection
Cetuximab injection may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- acne-like rash
- dry or cracking skin
- swelling, pain, or changes in the fingernails or toenails
- red, watery, or itchy eye(s)
- red or swollen eyelid(s)
- pain or burning sensation in the eye(s)
- the sensitivity of eyes to light
- hair loss
- increased hair growth on head, face, eyelashes, or chest
- chapped lips
- numbness, tingling, pain, or burning in arms or legs
- dry mouth
- sores on lips, mouth, or throat
- sore throat
- change in the ability to taste food
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- joint pain
- bone pain
- pain, redness, or swelling at the place the medication was injected
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- loss of vision
- blistering, peeling, or shedding skin
- red, swollen, or infected skin
- new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
Cetuximab may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before receiving treatment with cetuximab injection:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to cetuximab, or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant during your treatment with cetuximab and for at least 2 months after your treatment. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that you can use during your treatment. If you become pregnant while you are receiving cetuximab injection, call your doctor.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. Your doctor may tell you not to breastfeed during your treatment and for 2 months after you stop receiving this medication.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen during your treatment with cetuximab and for 2 months after your treatment.
Cetuximab Injection Dosage
Cetuximab comes as a solution (liquid) to be infused (injected slowly) into a vein. Cetuximab is given by a doctor or nurse in a medical office or infusion center. The first time you receive cetuximab, it will be infused over a period of 2 hours, then the following doses will be infused over an hour. Cetuximab injection is usually given once a week for as long as your doctor recommends that you receive treatment.
Your doctor may need to slow down your infusion, reduce your dosage, delay or stop your treatment, or treat you with other medications if you experience certain side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with cetuximab.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about your treatment with cetuximab injection.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.