Cetuximab: Uses & Side effects

Cetuximab is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Cetuximab is used to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is also used to treat head and neck cancer.

Cetuximab is often used in combination with other cancer medicines or radiation treatment.

Important Information

Cetuximab has caused life-threatening side effects in a small number of patients. Your caregivers will watch you closely after you receive each dose of cetuximab.

Side effects may occur when this medicine is injected into your vein. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, feverish, itchy, or short of breath during the infusion.

Cetuximab can have long lasting effects on your body. You may need frequent medical tests for a short time after you stop using this medicine.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).

Some side effects may occur during the infusion. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel short of breath, weak or dizzy, nauseated, itchy, or have wheezing, noisy breathing, or a hoarse voice during the infusion.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • slow heart rate, weak pulse, fainting, slow breathing (breathing may stop);
  • sudden chest pain, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
  • dry cough, or coughing up blood;
  • fever, mouth sores, sore throat;
  • an acne-like skin rash or any severe skin rash;
  • redness or crusting around your hair follicles;
  • redness, warmth, or puffiness under your skin;
  • eye pain or redness, puffy eyelids, drainage or crusting in your eyes, vision problems, or increased sensitivity to light;
  • kidney problems–little or no urination, swelling in your feet or ankles; or
  • signs of an electrolyte imbalance–increased thirst or urination, confusion, vomiting, constipation, muscle pain or weakness, leg cramps, bone pain, lack of energy, irregular heartbeats, tingly feeling.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild itching or rash;
  • changes in your fingernails or toenails;
  • dry, cracked, or swollen skin;
  • headache;
  • diarrhea; or
  • infection.


Keywords: Cetuximab

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.