Rituximab (Generic Name)

Rituxan ® (Other Name)

About This Drug

Rituximab is a special type of antibody used to treat cancer. This drug is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • For a few months after receiving this drug, bone marrow depression may occur. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may increase your risk of infection, fatigue, and bleeding.
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Fever with or without chills
  • Effects on the nerves called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness or tingling in your hands and feet. It may be difficult for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk normally. The effect on the nerves may get worse with additional doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it may not get better in some people.
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rash with or without itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint and muscle pain, muscle spasm
  • Cough
  • High blood pressure

Infusion Reactions

While you are receiving this drug by IV, you may have a reaction to the drug. Your nurse will monitor you closely for the following reactions: fever or shaking chills, flushing, facial swelling, dizziness, headache, trouble breathing, rash, itching, chest tightness, or chest pain.

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Low blood pressure
  • High blood sugar

Allergic Reactions

Serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare. While you are receiving this drug by IV, tell your nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling
  • Feeling your heart beat rapidly (palpitations)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Flushing/itching/rash/hives

Reproductive Concerns

  • Pregnancy Warning: This drug may have harmful effects ont he unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used by both men and women during your cancer treatment and for at least 12 months after treatment
  • Genetic cousneling 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: Women are advised not to breast feed furing treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and seriously harm the breastfeeding infant.

Treating Side Effects

  • If you have numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, be careful when cooking, walking, and handling sharp objects and hot liquids.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication to prevent or lessen headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or pain
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medication if your rash is bothersome.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of rituximab and any food. This drug may interact with other medication. 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:

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat.
  • Uncontrolled nausea that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Vomiting more than 3 times a day
  • Diarrhea 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Rash with or without itching
  • Changes in your speech or vision
  • Confusion
  • Weakness of your arms and legs or poor coordination
  • Abdominal pain

Notify your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Fatigue and /or weakness that interferes with your daily activities
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Joint and muscle pain or muscle spasms unrelieved by prescribed medications
  • Persistent cough

Revised February 2013

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