| Last Modified: February 7, 2012
Pronounced: bren-TUX-i-mab ve-DOE-tin
About Brentuximab Vedotin
Brentuximab vedotin is an antibody conjugate (an antibody with a cell-killing medication attached to it) directed against a protein called CD30, found on the surface of some lymphoma cells. Antibodies, which are normally found in the body, are developed by the immune system to destroy foreign material (such as a germ). Brentuximab vedotin is a manmade antibody that causes the immune system to attack lymphoma cells that have the CD30 protein on them. In addition, the drug has an agent attached to it that disrupts functions critical to cell growth and, in turn, causes cell death.
How to Take Brentuximab Vedotin
Brentuximab vedotin is given by intravenous (into a vein) infusion. The treatment is delivered over 30 minutes and is typically given every 3 weeks. The dosage depends on the person’s size and type of cancer being treated.
Possible Side Effects of Brentuximab Vedotin
Brentuximab vedotin has the potential to cause side effects. There are some things you can do to manage the more common side effects of Brentuximab vedotin. Talk to your doctor or nurse about these recommendations. They can help you decide what will work best for you.
Infusion-Related Side Effects
This infusion can cause a reaction that may lead to chills, fever, low blood pressure, nausea and vomiting. Let your infusion nurse know if you experience any side effects during your infusion. If you have a reaction, the infusion will be stopped and you may be given medications to prevent further reactions before restarting the infusion.
Low White Blood Cell Count (Leukopenia or Neutropenia)
White blood cells (WBC) are important for fighting infection. While receiving treatment, your WBC count can drop, putting you at a higher risk of getting an infection. You should let your doctor or nurse know right away if you have a fever (temperature greater than 100.4 F), sore throat or cold, shortness of breath, cough, burning with urination, or a sore that doesn't heal.
For more suggestions, read the Neutropenia Tip Sheet.
Low Red Blood Cell Count (Anemia)
Your red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues in your body. When the red cell count is low, you may feel tired or weak. You should let your doctor or nurse know if you experience any shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or pain in your chest. If the count gets too low, you may receive a blood transfusion. Read the anemia tip sheet for more information.
Low Platelet Count (Thrombocytopenia)
Platelets help your blood clot, so when the platelet count is low, you are at a higher risk of bleeding. Let your doctor or nurse know if you have any excess bruising or bleeding, including nosebleeds, bleeding gums or blood in your urine or stool. If the count becomes too low, you may be given a transfusion of platelets.
Read the thrombocytopenia tip sheet for more information.
Nausea and/or Vomiting
Take anti-nausea medications as prescribed. If you continue to have nausea or vomiting, notify your doctor or nurse so they can help you manage this side effect. In addition, dietary changes may help. Avoid things that may worsen the symptoms, such as heavy or greasy/fatty, spicy or acidic foods (lemons, tomatoes, oranges). Try antacids, (e.g. milk of magnesia, calcium tablets such as Tums), saltines, or ginger ale to lessen symptoms. Read the Nausea & Vomiting Tip Sheet for more suggestions.
Peripheral Neuropathy (Numbness or Tingling in the Hands and/or Feet)
Peripheral neuropathy is a toxicity that affects the nerves. It causes a numbness or tingling feeling in the hands and feet, often in the pattern of a stocking or glove. This can get progressively worse with additional doses of the drug. In some people, the symptoms slowly resolve after the drug is stopped, but for some it never goes away completely. You should let your healthcare provider know if you experience numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, as they may need to change the doses of your medication. See OncoLink's section on peripheral neuropathy for tips on dealing with this side effect.
Call your doctor or nurse if you are unable to keep fluids down for more than 12 hours or if you feel lightheaded or dizzy at any time.
Your oncology team can recommend medications to relieve diarrhea. Also, try eating low-fiber, bland foods, such as white rice and boiled or baked chicken. Avoid raw fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals and seeds. Soluble fiber is found in some foods that absorbs fluid and can help relieve diarrhea. Foods high in soluble fiber include: applesauce, bananas (ripe), canned fruit, orange and grapefruit sections, boiled potatoes, white rice and products made with white flour, oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat, and farina. Drink 8-10 glasses on non-alcoholic, un-caffeinated fluid a day to prevent dehydration. Read Low Fiber Diet for Diarrhea for more tips.
While on cancer treatment you may need to adjust your schedule to manage fatigue. Plan times to rest during the day and conserve energy for more important activities. Exercise can help combat fatigue; a simple daily walk with a friend can help. Talk to your healthcare team and see OncoLink's section on fatigue for helpful tips on dealing with this side effect.
Other Side Effects
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare but very serious brain infection that has been reported with brentuximab vedotin. The signs of PML may develop over several weeks or months. They may include changes in mood or usual behavior, confusion, thinking problems, loss of memory, changes in vision, speech, or walking, and decreased strength or weakness on one side of the body. If you develop any of these signs, notify your healthcare provider immediately.
There have been a few cases of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, which is a serious allergic reaction that affects the skin and mucous membranes. It typically starts as a rash or painful blisters and can progress to serious damage to the skin and in some cases, death. It is important that you report any rash to your healthcare providers immediately.