Cancer Home > Zevalin

Zevalin is a medicine prescribed in combination with other medications to treat certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It comes as an intravenous injection that is administered by your healthcare provider. This medication works by binding to certain cancerous cells, signaling the immune system to destroy the cells. Side effects may include fatigue, nausea, and stomach pain.

What Is Zevalin?

Zevalin® (ibritumomab) is a prescription medication approved to treat certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that begins in the lymphatic system. It is used in combination with rituximab (Rituxan®). Zevalin belongs to a group of medications known as monoclonal antibodies.
Zevalin contains ibritumomab tiutexan. Ibritumomab is a synthetic (manufactured) antibody. It is linked to tiutexan, a molecule that helps the antibody attach to a radioactive isotope known as Yttrium-90 (or simply Y-90). Because it attaches to this isotope, Zevalin is considered a radioactive medication.
(Click Zevalin Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Zevalin is made by Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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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