Cetuximab is used on its own or together with other medicines to treat cancer of the colon and rectum that has spread to other parts of the body. It is to be used specifically for those carrying a normal gene known as RAS.
This medicine may also be used on its own or together with other medicines to treat cancer of the head and neck that has recurred or spread to other parts of the body.
Cetuximab may also be used in combination with radiation therapy to treat a certain type of cancer of the head and neck that had locally advanced.
Cetuximab injection is to be given intravenously (into the vein) as an infusion. It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the dosage and course of the treatment depending on your condition and response to the medication.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Cetuximab.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or infusion should be given as soon as possible.
Do not use Cetuximab if you ever had a severe allergic reaction (e.g. rashes, breathlessness, swollen eyes) to this medicine.
Before starting treatment for cancer of the colon and rectum that has spread to other parts of the body, your doctor will test your cancer cells to see if it contains either the normal (wild-type) or mutant form of RAS genes. This medicine is intended to be used for those who have the normal RAS genes. You must not receive Cetuximab in combination with other anticancer medicines that contains oxaliplatin if your cancer cells are the mutant form or if your RAS status is unknown.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with Cetuximab and for 2 months after stopping the treatment.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- history of tick bites or red meat allergy
- positive results for certain antibodies (determined by a laboratory test)
- history of heart disease e.g. heart failure, irregular or abnormal heartbeat, coronary artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels of the heart)
- pre-existing lung disease
- eye problems e.g. blurred vision, eye pain, red eyes or severely dry eyes
- with or history of long-term infections, recurring infections, or any other conditions that may predispose you to develop an infection
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant.
You must use proven birth control methods during Cetuximab therapy and for 2 months after stopping the treatment. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.
Some individuals have reduced response to this medicine due to RAS
genetic mutation. Your doctor may perform genetic testing before giving you Cetuximab to know if it is suitable for you.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Pregnancy tests must be done before initiating treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to use.
- Routine tests (e.g. magnesium, potassium and calcium levels in your blood) may be done while you are being treated with this medicine. Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these tests.
Cetuximab may cause any of the following side effects: headache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, tiredness, skin reactions (e.g. dry skin, itching, scaling), nail problems, and injection site reactions.
Exposure to sunlight may worsen skin reactions. Limit your sun exposure, use sunscreen and protective clothing while outdoors.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- rashes, breathlessness, swollen face, eyes, tongue or throat
- signs of infection e.g. fever, chills, night sweats, flu-like symptoms, sore throat, mouth sore, unusual tiredness, persistent cough
- breathing difficulties, chest pain or tightness
- rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. Do not receive any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8°C, away from the reach of children. Do not freeze or shake.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.