Health Guide

Cetuximab (By injection)

Cetuximab (se-TUX-i-mab)

Treats cancer, including head, neck, and colorectal cancer.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to cetuximab.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein. This medicine needs to be given slowly, so the needle will remain in place for at least 1 hour. The first dose of this medicine could take 2 hours to give.
  • You may also receive a medicine to help prevent an allergic reaction.
  • You will need to stay in the hospital or cancer treatment center for at least 1 hour after you have received the medicine. You might need to stay longer if you have any signs of an allergic reaction.
  • Missed dose: This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Some medicines can affect how cetuximab works. Tell your doctor if you are using cisplatin.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • This medicine may cause birth defects if either partner is using it during conception or pregnancy. Tell your doctor right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant. Continue to use birth control for 6 months after your last dose of cetuximab.
  • Do not breastfeed while you are using cetuximab and for at least 60 days after you receive your last dose.
  • Tell your doctor if you have heart or blood vessel disease, heart rhythm problems, a lung disease, or if you have a mineral imbalance such as low levels of potassium, magnesium, or calcium.
  • This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunscreen. Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood
  • Dry mouth, increased thirst, or muscle cramps
  • Headache, bone pain, or back pain
  • Lightheadedness, fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, or stomach pain
  • Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Acne
  • Depression, anxiety, or confusion
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat
  • Trouble sleeping

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

All rights reserved