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Cetuximab Side Effects

Common Side Effects

Cetuximab has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people receiving cetuximab were carefully documented and compared to those that occurred in a similar group of people receiving a placebo (an injection with no active ingredients), a different anti-cancer medication, or radiation treatment. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the placebo or other treatments.
In these studies, the most common cetuximab side effects included:
  • Skin reactions, including acne-like rash, itching, irritation, peeling, and dry skin -- up to 89 percent
  • Tiredness -- up to 89 percent
  • Weight loss -- up to 84 percent
  • A general feeling of discomfort -- up to 73 percent
  • Diarrhea -- up to 72 percent
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- up to 59 percent
  • Weakness -- up to 56 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 55 percent
  • General pain -- up to 51 percent
  • Shortness of breath -- up to 48 percent
  • Constipation -- up to 46 percent.
Other common reactions, occurring in 10 to 44 percent of people, included:
  • Any infection
  • High liver function tests
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Dehydration
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swelling, ulcers, or sores in the mouth
  • General stomach or intestinal problems
  • Allergic-type reactions while receiving the drug or shortly thereafter
  • Side effects from radiation treatment
  • Pain and swelling of the skin around the toenails or fingernails
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Itching
  • Bone pain
  • Confusion
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low levels of blood calcium, potassium, or magnesium
  • Hair loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Infection of the lining of the eyelids (conjunctivitis).
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