Cancer Home > Cetuximab

Clinical Effects

In clinical trials, cetuximab has been shown to help extend survival in people with head and neck cancer and people with colorectal cancer. In one head and neck cancer study, half of the people given cetuximab in addition to radiation treatment lived at least 19.7 months longer than people who just received radiation therapy. In another study, 13 percent of people who were given cetuximab alone had smaller tumors. Treatment response lasted almost six months in half of all participants.
In colorectal cancer studies, cetuximab improved treatment response when added to irinotecan (Camptosar®, another anti-cancer medicine). In one study, half of the people who received cetuximab and irinotecan responded to treatment for at least 5.7 months, compared to 4.2 months in people given cetuximab alone. The study did not show an improvement in survival, however. In another study, people given cetuximab alone lived about 1.5 months longer than people not given cetuximab.

When and How to Use It

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with cetuximab include the following:
  • This medication comes as a liquid (solution) that is given as a slow injection into a vein (an intravenous, or IV, infusion). It is usually given once a week.
  • The injections are given by a healthcare provider in a healthcare setting. It will take one to two hours to receive your entire dose. You will then be watched carefully for at least an hour to make sure you do not have a serious reaction to the medicine.
  • The product should not be used if it is discolored, cloudy, or contains unknown particles.
  • Your healthcare provider may recommend you take medication before your cetuximab dose to help prevent a possible allergic reaction to the infusion.
  • For this drug to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. Cetuximab will not work as well if you miss doses.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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