Treats head and neck cancer or colorectal cancer. This medicine may be used by itself or given with another medicine.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to cetuximab.
How to Use This Medicine
- Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
- You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins. This medicine needs to be given slowly, so the needle will remain in place for at least an hour. The first dose of this medicine could take two hours to give.
- You may also receive a medicine to help prevent an allergic reaction.
- You will need to stay in the hospital or cancer treatment center for at least one hour after you have finished your dose of this medicine. You might need to stay longer if you have any signs of an allergic reaction.
If a dose is missed:
- This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are also receiving cisplatin (Platinol®).
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant, or if you have heart or blood vessel disease, heart rhythm problems, lung disease, or if you have a mineral imbalance such as low levels of potassium, magnesium, or calcium in your blood.
- Do not breastfeed while you are using this medicine and for at least 60 days after you receive your last dose of this medicine.
- Cetuximab may cause a serious side effect called an infusion reaction. This can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have fever, chills, trouble with breathing, lightheadedness, fainting, or chest pain within a few hours after you receive it.
- Serious skin reactions can also occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin; red skin lesions; severe acne or skin rash; sores or ulcers on the skin; or fever or chills while you are using this medicine.
- This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sunscreen when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
- Change in how much or how often you urinate.
- Chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood.
- Dry mouth, increased thirst, or muscle cramps.
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
- Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed.
- Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
- Trouble breathing.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Depression, anxiety, or confusion.
- Hair loss.
- Headache, bone pain, or back pain.
- Loss of appetite.
- Nail changes, or mild skin rash, itching, or dryness.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, or stomach pain.
- Red, irritated eyes.
- Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Weight loss.
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
- Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013
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This page was last updated: September 18, 2013