Cetuximab may cause severe or life-threatening reactions while you receive the medication. These reactions are more common with the first dose of cetuximab but may occur at any time during treatment. Your doctor will watch you carefully while you receive each dose of cetuximab and for at least 1 hour afterward. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to red meat, or if you have ever been bitten by a tick. If you experience any of the following symptoms during or after your infusion tell your doctor immediately: sudden difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing or noisy breathing, swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, lips or throat, hoarseness, hives, fainting, dizziness, nausea, fever, chills, or chest pain or pressure. If you experience any of these symptoms your doctor may slow down or stop your infusion and treat the symptoms of the reaction. You may not be able to receive treatment with cetuximab in the future.
People with a head and neck cancer who are treated with radiation therapy and cetuximab may have an increased risk of cardiopulmonary arrest (condition in which the heart stops beating and breathing stops) and sudden death during or after their treatment. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had coronary artery disease (condition that occurs when the blood vessels of the heart are narrowed or clogged by fat or cholesterol deposits); heart failure (condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the other parts of the body); irregular heartbeat; other heart disease; or lower than normal levels of magnesium, potassium, or calcium in your blood.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain tests during and after your treatment to check your body's response to cetuximab.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of using cetuximab.
Cetuximab 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.
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 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.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before receiving treatment with cetuximab,
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
If you miss an appointment to receive a dose of cetuximab, call your doctor right away.
Cetuximab may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
Cetuximab may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site ) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about your treatment with cetuximab.
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.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Selected Revisions: July 15, 2018.