Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Brentuximab Vedotin (bren TUX i mab ve Doe tin)
Brentuximab vedotin is the generic name for the trade name drug Adcetris. In some
cases, health care professionals may use the trade name, Adcetris, when referring
to the generic drug name, brentuximab vedotin.
Brentuximab vedotin is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy
drug. This medication is classified as an "antineoplastic agent and a monoclonal
antibody". (For more detail, see “How Brentuximab Vedotin Works” below)
What Brentuximab Vedotin Is Used For:
- Treatment of patients with Hodgkins lymphoma after failure of autologous stem cell
transplant or after failure of at least two prior multi-agent chemotherapy regimens
in patients who are not candidates for autologous stem cell transplant.
- Treatment of patient with systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma after failure
of at least one prior multi-agent chemotherapy regimen.
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this
same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Brentuximab Vedotin Is Given:
- As an infusion into a vein (intravenous, IV) over 30 minutes.
- The amount of brentuximab vedotin that you will receive depends on many factors,
including your weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type
of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact dosage and
Brentuximab Vedotin Side Effects:
Important things to remember about the side effects of brentuximab vedotin:
- Most people will not experience all of the brentuximab vedotin side effects listed.
- Brentuximab vedotin side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset,
duration, and severity.
- Brentuximab vedotin side effects will improve after therapy is complete.
- Brentuximab vedotin side effects may be quite manageable. There are many options
to minimize or prevent the side effects of brentuximab vedotin.
The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for
patients taking brentuximab vedotin:
These are less common (occurring in 10-29%) side effects for patients receiving
Other very rare (less than 1 %) but serious brentuximab vedotin side effects include:
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) (a rare but serious brain infection).
The signs and symptoms of PML may develop over the course of 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. Patients who develop any signs and symptoms of
PML should notify their healthcare professional immediately.
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (very rare and serious condition in which skin and mucous
membranes react to a medication or infection)
- Tumor lysis syndrome (Rapid destruction of cancer cells can cause disturbances
in metabolism leading to kidney problems).
Not all side effects are listed above. Side effects that are very rare -- occurring
in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not all listed here. But you should
always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
When To Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider:
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should
experience any of the following symptoms:
- Fever of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion in thought processes, eyesight, or balance
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact
your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
- Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
- Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools
- Decreased urination
- Blood in the urine
- Pain or burning with urination
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
- Muscle weakness
- Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Brentuximab Vedotin Precautions:
- This treatment may not be given at the same time as Bleomycin
- Before starting brentuximab vedotin treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about
anyother medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter,
vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.). Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin
unless your doctor specifically permits this.
- Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor’s approval
while taking brentuximab vedotin.
- Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category D (Brentuximab vedotin may be hazardous
to the fetus. Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential
hazard to the fetus.)
- For both men and women: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a child (get pregnant)
while taking brentuximab vedotin. Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms,
- Do not breast feed while taking brentuximab vedotin.
Brentuximab Vedotin Self-Care Tips:
- Drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you are instructed
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and
report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- To help treat/prevent mouth sores, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times
a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water.
- Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
- Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and
eat small, frequent meals.
- Follow regimen of anti-diarrhea medication as prescribed by your health care professional.
- Eat foods that may help reduce diarrhea (see
managing side effects - diarrhea).
- Acetaminophen or ibuprophen may help relieve discomfort from fever, headache and/or
generalized aches and pains. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before taking
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sun block and protective clothing.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided
completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain good nutrition.
- Remain active as you are able. Gentle exercise is encouraged such as a daily walk.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health
care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are
effective in managing such problems.
Monitoring and Testing While Taking Brentuximab Vedotin:
Lab work to check blood counts and liver/kidney functions will be checked regularly
by your health care professional while you are taking brentuximab vedotin, to monitor
side effects and check your response to therapy.
How Brentuximab Vedotin Works:
Targeted therapy is the result of about 100 years of research dedicated to understanding
the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. To date, cancer treatment
has focused primarily on killing rapidly dividing cells because one feature of cancer
cells is that they divide rapidly. Unfortunately, some of our normal cells divide
rapidly too, causing multiple side effects.
Targeted therapy is about identifying other features of cancer cells. Scientists
look for specific differences in the cancer cells and the normal cells. This information
is used to create a targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without damaging
the normal cells, thus leading to fewer side effects. Each type of targeted therapy
works a little bit differently but all interfere with the ability of the cancer
cell to grow, divide, repair and/or communicate with other cells.
There are different types of targeted therapies, defined in three broad categories.
Some targeted therapies focus on the internal components and function of the cancer
cell. The targeted therapies use small molecules that can get into the cell and
disrupt the function of the cells, causing them to die. There are several types
of targeted therapy that focus on the inner parts of the cells. Other targeted therapies
target receptors that are on the outside of the cell. Therapies that target receptors
are also known as monoclonal antibodies. Antiangiogenesis inhibitors target the
blood vessels that supply oxygen to the cells, ultimately causing the cells to starve.
Brentuximab vedotin has the component of an antibody type of targeted therapy. Antibodies
are an integral part of the body’s immune system, Normally the body creates antibodies
in response to an antigen (such as a protein or a germ) that has entered the body.
The antibodies attach to the antigen in order to mark it for destruction by the
immune system. To make anti-cancer antibodies in the laboratory, scientists analyze
specific antigens on the surface of cancer cells (the targets). Then using animal
and human proteins, they create a specific antibody that will attach to the target
antigen on the cancer cells. When given to a patient, these antibodies will attach
to matching antigens like a key fits a lock. Since antibodies target only specific
cells, they may cause less toxicity to healthy cells. Monoclonal antibody therapy
is usually only given for cancers in which antigens and the respective antibodies
have been identified already.
Brentuximab vedotin is a CD30-directed Antibody Drug conjugate (ADC); meaning that
it consists of a targeted therapy monoclonal antibody and an antineoplastic (chemotherapy)
agent. These work together to destroy cancer cells.
The brentuximab portion of the drug is a monoclonal antibody which targets the CD30
antigen on the surface of the cancer cells. When it attaches itself, it allows the
ADC to enter the cell and disrupt the microtubule network which is part of the structural
network of the cell (skeleton). This disruption stops the cell from dividing and
copying itself. This disruption ultimately leads to cell death.
Research continues to identify which cancers may be best treated with targeted therapies
and to identify additional targets for more types of cancer.
We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your
specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website
is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.
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