What is Cetuximab?
Commonly Used Brand Name(s)Erbitux
Therapeutic ClassificationsAntineoplastic Agent
Pharmacologic ClassificationsMonoclonal Antibody
- Blackbox Warning
- Proper Use
- Before Using
- Breast Feeding
- Drug Interactions
- Other Interactions
- Other Medical Problems
Cetuximab injection is used together with radiation treatment for advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), or with a platinum-based cancer medicine with fluorouracil to treat SCCHN that has come back (recurrent) or has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic). Cetuximab injection is also used alone in patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN who have received other medicines that did not work well.
Cetuximab injection is used together with other medicines (eg, irinotecan, fluorouracil, leucovorin) to treat K-Ras wild-type, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-expressing, metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Your doctor will test for the presence of this gene mutation. Cetuximab injection is also used alone to treat patients with mCRC who have received other medicines (eg, irinotecan, oxaliplatin) that did not work well.
Cetuximab interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which are then destroyed by the body. Since the growth of normal body cells may also be affected by cetuximab, other effects will also occur. Some of these may be serious and must be reported to your doctor. Other effects, such as a skin rash, may not be serious but may cause concern. Some effects do not occur until months or years after the medicine is used.
Before you begin treatment with cetuximab, you and your doctor should talk about the benefits of this medicine as well as the risks of using it.
This medicine should only be given by or under the direct supervision of your doctor.
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine in a medical facility. It is given through a needle placed into one of your veins. Cetuximab needs to be given slowly, so the needle will have remain in place for at least an hour. The first dose of this medicine could take at least 2 hours to give.
You may also receive medicines (eg, allergy medicine) to help prevent unwanted effects to the injection.
This medicine sometimes causes nausea and vomiting. However, it is very important that you continue to receive this medicine, even if you begin to feel ill. Ask your doctor for ways to lessen these effects.
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of cetuximab injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of cetuximab injection in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical ProblemsTOP
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Allergy to red meat or tick bites—Use with caution. May increased risk of an allergic reaction to reoccur.
- Congestive heart failure, history of or
- Coronary artery disease, history of or
- Heart rhythm problems (eg, arrythmia), history of—May increase your risk for more side effects.
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment with this medicine and for 2 months after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Cetuximab may cause a serious side effect called an infusion reaction. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have a fever, chills, trouble with breathing, lightheadedness, fainting, or chest pain within a few hours after you receive it.
Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have a cough, difficulty with breathing, or other breathing problems while being treated with this medicine. These may be symptoms of a serious lung problem.
Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, dry skin, grooves or lines in the skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you are receiving this medicine.
This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sunscreen or sun-blocking lotion when you are outdoors. Wear protective clothing and hats. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
If you plan to have children, talk with your doctor before using this medicine. Some women using this medicine have become infertile (unable to have children).