About This Drug
Alemtuzumab is used to treat cancer. It is given in the vein (IV).
Possible Side Effects
- Bone marrow suppression. This is a 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.
- Nausea and vomiting (throwing up)
- Diarrhea (loose bowel movements)
- 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 after your infusion. If this happens, call 911 for emergency care.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. CMV is a common virus which can be more severe in patients
with a weak immune system.
- Trouble sleeping
Warnings and precautions
- Severe bone marrow suppression, which can be life-threatening
- Severe reactions to the drug, which can be life-threatening
- Severe infections, including viral, bacterial and fungal, which can be life-threatening
Note: Some of the side effects above are very rare. If you have concerns and/or questions, please discuss them with your medical team.
- Talk to your doctor before receiving any vaccinations during your treatment. Some 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
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 of 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 stop or lessen these symptoms.
- If you have 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 the risk of infection, wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid close contact with people who have a cold, the flu, or other infections.
- Take your temperature as your doctor or nurse tells you, and whenever you feel like you may have a fever.
- To help decrease the risk of bleeding, 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 after your infusion. If this happens, call 911 for emergency care.
Food and Drug Interactions
- There are no known interactions of alemtuzumab with food.
- This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all theprescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs
and others) that you are taking at this time. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplements to make sure that there are no interactions.
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 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
- Signs of a local infection such as pain, redness, tenderness, warmth and/or swelling
- Achy muscles and/or joints
- Tiredness that interferes with your daily activities
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Diarrhea, 4 times in one day or diarrhea 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
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Signs of infusion reaction: fever or shaking chills, flushing, facial swelling, feeling dizzy, headache, trouble breathing, rash, itching, chest tightness, or chest pain. These reactions may happen after your infusion. If this happens, call 911 for emergency care.
- 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 childbearing 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 childbearing 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 partner.
- Breastfeeding 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 breastfeeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breastfeeding 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. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
Revised May 2019
This patient information was developed by Via Oncology, LLC © 2019. This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. CLIENT acknowledges that the Via Pathways and Via Portal are information management tools only, and that Via Oncology, LLC has not represented the Via Pathways or Via Portal as having the ability to diagnose disease, prescribe treatment, or perform any other tasks that constitute the practice of medicine. The clinical information contained in the Via Pathways and Via Portal are intended as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the knowledge, expertise, skill, and judgment of physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals involved with patient care at CLIENT facilities.