Cetuximab

Generic Name: Cetuximab (se-TUX-i-mab)Brand Name: Erbitux

Serious and sometimes fatal reactions have occurred in patients receiving Cetuximab . Many of the reactions have occurred during the first dose. If you develop symptoms such as sudden trouble breathing; hoarseness; wheezing; hives; itching; fever; chills; severe dizziness; fainting; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; chest pain or tightness; or numbness of an arm or leg, seek immediate medical attention.

The risk of heart attack or sudden death may be increased in patients who receive Cetuximab along with radiation to treat certain types of cancer of the head and neck. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have heart blood vessel problems, heart failure, or an irregular heartbeat. Lab tests, including blood electrolytes, may be performed while you use Cetuximab and for a period of time after you finish Cetuximab .

Cetuximab is used for:

Treating certain types of head, neck, and colorectal cancer. Cetuximab may be used alone or along with radiation treatments or other medicines. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Cetuximab is a monoclonal antibody. It works by blocking a certain growth factor. This helps to reduce the growth and survival of certain types of cancer cells.

Do NOT use Cetuximab if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Cetuximab

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Cetuximab :

Some medical conditions may interact with Cetuximab . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances (eg, mouse proteins)
  • if you have lung problems (eg, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis), abnormal blood electrolyte levels, breathing problems, or a respiratory tract infection
  • if you have a history of blood vessel problems, heart problems, heart failure, or irregular heartbeat
  • if you are having radiation therapy or other types of chemotherapy (eg, cisplatin)

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Cetuximab . However, no specific interactions with Cetuximab are known at this time.

Ask your health care provider if Cetuximab may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Cetuximab :

Use Cetuximab as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Cetuximab is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using Cetuximab at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use Cetuximab . Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Do not use Cetuximab if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Do not shake or dilute Cetuximab .
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of Cetuximab , contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Cetuximab .

Important safety information:

  • Cetuximab may cause dizziness. This effect may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Cetuximab with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Cetuximab may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to Cetuximab . If you must be outside for more than a short time, use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing while you use Cetuximab and for 2 months after your last dose.
  • If nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea occurs, you will need to take care not to become dehydrated. Contact your doctor for instructions on how to lessen these effects.
  • Cetuximab may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Men who take Cetuximab should always use a condom when having sex with a woman who may become pregnant. Do this for as long as you take Cetuximab and for 6 months after you stop taking it.
  • Women who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control while using Cetuximab and for at least 6 months after the last dose.
  • Lab tests, including blood electrolytes, may be performed while you use Cetuximab and for 8 weeks after you stop using it. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Cetuximab should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if Cetuximab can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Cetuximab while you are pregnant. It is not known if Cetuximab is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while using Cetuximab or for 2 months after you stop taking it.

Possible side effects of Cetuximab :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Changes in fingernails or toenails; constipation; cough; diarrhea; dry mouth; dry skin; eye redness or irritation; general body discomfort; headache; indigestion; mild acne; nausea; pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site; sore throat; stomach pain or upset; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weakness; weight loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); breathing problems or shortness of breath; change in the amount of urine produced; chest pain; confusion; eye or eyelid redness, swelling, or irritation; fainting; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; hoarseness; increased abnormal hair growth; mental or mood changes (eg, anxiety, depression); numbness of an arm or leg; peeling, redness, cracking, or oozing of the skin; severe or persistent acne; severe or persistent dizziness or headache; severe or persistent stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting; severe or persistent tiredness or weakness; sores on the lips or in the mouth; swelling of the hands, legs, or feet; trouble swallowing; vision changes; wheezing.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org), or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of Cetuximab :

Cetuximab is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using Cetuximab at home, store Cetuximab as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Cetuximab , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Cetuximab is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Cetuximab . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

  • Cetuximab Professional Patient Advice (Wolters Kluwer)
  • cetuximab Intravenous Advanced Consumer (Micromedex) - Includes Dosage Information
  • Erbitux Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Erbitux Consumer Overview