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Cetuximab

Information

Uses

Cetuximab is used in the treatment of head and neck cancer and cancer of colon and rectum

How it works

Cetuximab is a monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to receptors on cancer cells. Thus Cetuximab flags the cancer cells for destruction by the body's immune system.

Common side effects

Headache, Infection, Decreased magnesium level in blood, Diarrhoea

Available Medicine

Expert advice

  • Administration of anti-allergy medication including steroids is mandatory at least one hour before cetuximab infusion.
  • Caution is to be observed while driving or using machinery after taking Cetuximab.
  • Cetuximab may also adversely affect skin and eyes with symptoms like blurred vision, eye pain and dry eye.
  • Frequent monitoring for infections and levels of white blood cells is required, if cetuximab is given with certain other anti-cancer drugs (platinum compounds like cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin).
  • There is increased risk of occurrence of heart problems if cetuximab is given with certain other anti-cancer drugs (fluoropyrimidines like capecitabine, fluorouracil).
  • Caution is to be observed in case of administering cetuximab to elderly patient with heart problems.

Frequently asked questions

Cetuximab

Q. Is cetuximab a chemotherapy drug?
Cetuximab is a cytotoxic drug that is used in the chemotherapy of cancers of colon and rectum, and head-neck cancers

Q. Is cetuximab cytotoxic agent or vesicant or radiosensitizer?
It is not a radiosensitizer, but usually used in combination with radiotherapy to treat the cancers. It is not a vesicant (irritant)

Q. Is cetuximab US FDA approved?
Yes, cetuximab is approved by US FDA in 2009 to treat certain type of cancer of colon, rectum and head-neck cancer

Q. How is cetuximab administered?
Cetuximab is generally administered by intravenous (IV infusion) route, with or without radiotherapy

Q. Does cetuximab cause hair loss?
Yes. Cetuximab is a chemotherapy agent, which may cause hair loss. Please consult your doctor if you experience such side effect

Q. Why does cetuximab cause a rash?
Cetuximab may cause rashes

Q. How long does the rash last?
The duration of skin rash depends upon its type and severity. Please consult your doctor for advice.


Content on this page was last updated on 18 January, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)