Rituximab (Generic Name)

Other Name: Rituxan ®

About This Drug

Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody used to treat cancer. This drug is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Rash
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue (low energy, feeling weak)
  • Fatigue

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Changes in your liver function. Your doctor will check your liver function as needed. If you have ever been diagnoses with an infection in your liver you should tell your doctor before starting treatment. 

Infusion Reactions

While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), you may have a reaction to the drug. Your nurse will check you closely for these signs:

  • Fever or shaking chills
  • Flushing
  • Facial swelling
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Hheadache
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Chest tightness or chest pain

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to stop or lessen headache, loose bowel movements (diarrhea), nausea, throwing up (vomiting), or pain.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if the rash bothers you.
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movement, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack of water in the body from losing too much fluid).

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of rituximab and any food. This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) higher
  • Chills
  • Trouble breathing
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Nausea that stopsyou from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up (vomiting) more than 3 times in one day
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times in one day day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Rash with or without itching
  • Changes in your speech or vision
  • Feeling confused
  • Weakness of your arms and legs or poor coordination (feeling clumsy)
  • Abdominal pain

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Fatigue and /or weakness that interferes with your daily activities
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Joint and muscle pain or muscle spasms that are not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Cough that lasts longer than normal

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child. For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while getting this drug.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised November 2014

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