Brentuximab vedotin (Generic Name)

Other Names: Adcetris®

About This Drug

Brentuximab is a drug used to treat cancer. This drug is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Bone marrow depression usually occurs five to seven days after the drug is given and may increase your risk of infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Nausea and vomiting (often mild). Drugs are available to prevent and lessen these side effects.
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Soreness of the mouth and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet

Allergic Reactions

Severe allergic reactions to this drug are rare, but may occur in some patients. While you are receiving this drug by IV, tell your nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like your tongue or throat is swelling
  • Rash or itching
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling your heart beat rapidly (palpitations)

Reproduction Concerns

  • 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.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and seriously harm a breast feeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6 to 8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is eight ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Mouth care is very important. Your mouth care should consist of regular, gentle cleaning of your teeth or dentures and rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/2 teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water or 1/2 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in eight ounces of water. This should be done at least after every meal and at bedtime.
  • If you have mouth sores, avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. Avoid alcohol and smoking because they can irritate your mouth and throat.
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
  • Speak with your nurse about obtaining 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 undergoing chemotherapy learn about wigs, turbans, and scarves, as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse for medicine to prevent or lessen your nausea, diarrhea, constipation, itching, muscle aches, or headache.
  • 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 medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly 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 advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Rash or itching
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than 3 times a day
  • Diarrhea of 4 stools a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Persistent loss of appetite or rapid weight loss (more than 5 pounds in a week)
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, or feet

Revised January 2013

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