About This Drug
Brentuximab is a drug used to treat cancer. This drug is given in the vein (IV).
Possible Side Effects (More Common)
- Effects on the nerves are called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and feet. It may be hard for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk as usual. The effect on the nerves may get worse with more doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it does not get better in all people.
- 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.
- Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 72 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
- Constipation (not able to move bowels)
- Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
- Muscle aches
- Hair loss. You may notice hair getting thin. Some patients lose their hair. Your hair often grows back when treatment is done.
Possible Side Effects (Less Common)
- Soreness of the mouth and throat. You may have red areas, white patches, or sores that hurt.
- Feeling dizzy
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite (decreased hunger)
- Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
- Serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare. While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), tell your nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms of an allergic reaction:
- trouble catching your breath
- feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling
- feeling your heart beat quickly or in a not normal way (palpitations)
- feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- flushing, itching, rash, and/or hives
Treating Side Effects
- 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 movements you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body due to losing too much fluid).
- If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying.
- Ask your doctor or nurse about medicines that are available to help stop or lessen constipation.
- If you are not able to move your bowels, check with your doctor or nurse before you use enemas, laxatives, or suppositories.
- Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen the loose bowel movements.
- Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of routine, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water or ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water. This should be done at least after each meal and at bedtime.
- If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that has alcohol. Also avoid alcohol and smoking because they can bother your mouth and throat.
- If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
- Talk with your nurse about getting a wig before you lose your hair. Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “Look Good, Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women getting chemotherapy can learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.
- If you have numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.
Food and Drug Interactions
There are no known interactions of brentuximab with 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 the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
- Rash or itching
- Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
- Throwing up more than 3 times a day
- Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
- Severe headache
- Confusion or agitation
Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of these symptoms happen:
- Persistent loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (more than 5 pounds in a week)
- No bowel movement in 3 days or when you feel uncomfortable
- Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet
Sexual Problems and Reproduction Concerns
- Infertility: Sexual problems and reproduction concerns may happen. In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children. This cannot be determined before your therapy. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
- In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations.
- In women, menstrual bleeding may become irregular or stop while you are getting this drug. Do not assume that you cannot become pregnant if you do not have a menstrual period.
- Women may go through signs of menopause (change of life) like vaginal dryness or itching. Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.
- Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.
- Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment.
- 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