Cancer Home > Zevalin Uses

If you have a certain type of slow-growing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a healthcare provider may prescribe Zevalin. This medicine works to slow down the progression of this cancer by binding to the cancer cells, signaling the body to attack and destroy them. Zevalin is approved for use only in adults age 18 and older.

What Is Zevalin Used For?

Zevalin® (ibritumomab) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is given as an injection into a vein.
 
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer of the white blood cells (lymphocytes). It is often characterized by swollen lymph nodes, fever, and weight loss.
 
(Click Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for information on other possible signs of this type of cancer.)
 
There are several different types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The types can be divided into cancers that are indolent (slow-growing or low-grade) or aggressive (fast-growing or high-grade), and further divided into cancers that form into B-lymphocytes (B-cells) or T-lymphocytes (T-cells). Follicular lymphoma is a common form of slow-growing, B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
 
Zevalin is approved to treat low-grade, or follicular B-cell, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that has not responded to previous treatment, or that has come back after being previously treated. It is also approved to treat people who are previously untreated for follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but only if they have a partial or complete response to a first-line treatment.
 

How Does It Work?

An antibody (also known as an immunoglobulin) is a protein made by the immune system. Antibodies attach to antigens, which are proteins found on certain molecules, marking the molecule for destruction by the immune system.
 
Zevalin is a synthetic (manufactured) antibody that binds to a specific antigen known as the CD20 antigen found on the surface of healthy and cancerous B-cells (a type of white blood cell). By binding to the CD20 antigen, Zevalin signals the body to destroy the B-cells.
 
In addition, Zevalin is linked to a radioactive element called the Y-90 isotope. The Zevalin-Y-90 compound emits radiation that helps destroy both the B-cell the medicine is attached to and surrounding B-cells.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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