Font Size
A
A
A
1

Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Erbitux

Generic Name: cetuximab (Pronunciation: se TUX i mab)

What is cetuximab (Erbitux)?

Cetuximab is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Cetuximab is used to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is also used to treat head and neck cancer.

Cetuximab is often used in combination with other cancer medications.

Cetuximab may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of cetuximab (Erbitux)?

Some people receiving a cetuximab injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel short of breath, weak or dizzy, nauseated, itchy, or have wheezing, noisy breathing, or a hoarse voice during the injection.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • an acne-like skin rash or any severe skin rash;
  • redness, swelling, or puffiness under your skin;
  • eye pain or redness, puffy eyelids, drainage or crusting in your eyes, vision problems, or increased sensitivity to light;
  • chest tightness, dry cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
  • feeling like you might pass out;
  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;
  • fever, chills, flu symptoms, mouth and throat ulcers, rapid heart rate, rapid and shallow breathing;
  • feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, or hot and dry skin; or
  • slow heart rate, weak pulse, fainting, slow breathing (breathing may stop).

Less serious side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about cetuximab (Erbitux)?

Cetuximab is often used in combination with other cancer medications and/or radiation treatments.

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to cetuximab or to mouse protein.

Before receiving cetuximab, tell your doctor if you have heart rhythm problems, congestive heart failure, breathing problems, coronary artery disease, or low levels of potassium or magnesium in your blood.

After your cetuximab infusion, your doctor will need to watch you for about an hour. This is to make sure you do not have any serious side effects from the medicine.

Some people receiving a cetuximab injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel short of breath, weak or dizzy, nauseated, itchy, or have wheezing, noisy breathing, or a hoarse voice during the injection.

To make sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests. Do not miss any follow-up visits to your doctor.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds while you are receiving cetuximab and for at least 2 months after your treatment ends. Cetuximab can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.



Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Pill Identifier Tool

Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill finder tool on RxList.