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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 binds and inhibits a particular protein responsible for growth and spread of cancerous tissue.

Common side effects

Nausea, Liver enzyme increased, Conjunctivitis, Dehydration, Diarrhoea, Intestinal injury, Headache, Decreased calcium level in blood, Decreased magnesium level in blood, Weakness, Infusion site reaction, Loss of appetite, Nasal mucous injury, Skin reaction, Vomiting


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


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 14 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)