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Cetuximab belongs to a group of drugs known as monoclonal antibodies. It blocks a protein called epidermal growth factor that helps cancer cells grow and multiply. Cetuximab is an intravenous (IV) drug.
Monoclonal antibodies such as cetuximab may not work for some people. So before you have this treatment, your tumor tissue will be checked for certain gene changes (mutations), such as the wild-type KRAS mutation.
Cetuximab is used alone or in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to treat metastatic or recurrent colorectal cancer.
Cetuximab helps some other chemotherapy drugs work better than they do alone. For example, when used with irinotecan, cetuximab slows tumor growth in approximately 23% of people who have metastatic or recurrent colorectal cancer.1
Cetuximab can cause serious side effects, usually during the first treatment. Side effects may include:
Cetuximab may cause more serious side effects, such as loss of consciousness, shock, cardiac arrest, and not being able to breathe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that people who take this medicine should be watched closely while they are getting this medicine and for 1 hour afterward.
The FDA also warns that some people may get a severe rash and/or infections when they take this medicine.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Cetuximab should be administered only under the supervision of a medical oncologist.
Cetuximab may cause birth defects. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or wish to become pregnant or father a child while you are taking it.
Cetuximab has been approved for use only in adults. There is no specific information comparing use of cetuximab in children with its use in other age groups.
Last Revised: September 13, 2010
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