Other Names: Campath®
About This Drug
Alemtuzumab is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).
Possible Side Effects
- Nausea and vomiting (throwing up)
- Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
- Decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. CMV is a common virus which can be more severe in patients with compromised immune system. Your doctor will monitor you for CMV infection periodically.
- Trouble sleeping
- While you are getting this drug in your vein (IV), you may have a reaction to the drug. Sometimes you may be given medication to stop or lessen these side effects. Your nurse will check you closely for these signs: fever or shaking chills, flushing, facial swelling, feeling dizzy, headache, trouble breathing, rash, itching, chest tightness, or chest pain. These reactions may happen for 24 hours after your infusion. If this happens, call 911 for emergency care.
Warnings and precautions
- Severe bone marrow depression which can lead to severely low white blood cell, red blood cells and platelets. Your doctor will monitor your blood counts as needed.
- Severe infections, including viral, bacterial and fungal, which can very rarely be fatal.
- Talk to your doctor before receiving any vaccinations during your treatment. Vaccinations are not recommended while receiving alemtuzumab.
- This drug may be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, urine, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions. Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.
Treating Side Effects
- Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended)
- If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
- To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
- If you get diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods that are high in protein and calories and avoid foods that can irritate your digestive tracts or lead to cramping.
- Ask your nurse or doctor about medicine that can lessen or stop your diarrhea.
- Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day.
- Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
- To decrease your risk of infection, wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infections.
- Use a soft toothbrush. Check with your nurse before using dental floss.
- Be very careful when using knives or tools.
- Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
- If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your nurse or doctor on tips to help you sleep better.
- Infusion reactions may happen for 24 hours after your infusion. If this happens, call 911 for emergency care.
Food and Drug Interactions
- There are no known interactions of alemtuzumab with food.
- There are no known interactions of alemtuzumab with other medications.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:
- Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
- Achy muscles and/or joints
- Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times a day or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
- Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
- Throwing up more than 3 times a day/li>
- Signs of infusion reaction: fever or shaking chills, flushing, facial swelling, feeling dizzy, headache, trouble breathing, rash, itching, chest tightness, or chest pain.
- If you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner
- Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn baby. Women of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for at least 6 months after treatment. Men with female partners of child bearing potential should use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment and for at least 6 months after your cancer treatment. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partn
- Breast Feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
- Fertility Warning: Human fertility studies have not been done with this drug. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.