Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Generic Name: Panitumumab
Vectibix is classified as a "monoclonal antibody" and "signal transduction inhibitor"
by binding to epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR).
What Vectibix Is Used For:
Vectibix is used to treat colorectal cancer that has spread. It is used to
treat colon cancers that express EGFR and disease that has gotten worse either on
or following fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan containing chemotherapy
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 Vectibix Is Given:
Vectibix is given through an infusion into a vein (intravenous, IV). An infusion
pump is used to give Vectibix.
The amount of Vectibix that you will receive depends on many factors, including
your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type
of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact Vectibix
dosage and schedule.
Important things to remember about the side effects of Vectibix:
- Most people will not experience all of the Vectibix side effects listed.
- Vectibix side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration, and
- Vectibix side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after therapy
- Vectibix side effects may be quite manageable. There are many options to minimize
or prevent the side effects of Vectibix.
- There is no relationship between the presence or severity of Vectibix side effects
and the effectiveness of Vectibix.
The following Vectibix side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for
patients taking Vectibix:
- Skin reactions (including redness, acneform dermatitis, itching, or rash)
- Low level of magnesium in the blood (hypomagnesemia)
These are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) for patients receiving Vectibix:
- General deterioration
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling in hands or feet
- Dry skin
- Inflammation of the bed of the fingernails
- Eye irritation (conjunctivitis, increased tears, irritation)
A serious but rare side effect of Vectibix is potential for a severe infusion reaction
(including allergic reaction, chills, fever, and bronchospasm - causing difficulty
breathing). This will be monitored carefully during the infusion. If
you feel short of breath while on Vectibix treatment, let your health care provider
know immediately. If signs of reaction occur, the infusion is stopped.
Vectibix may impair fertility (the ability to conceive) in women of childbearing
potential. The effects of Vectibix on male fertility are unknown. You
should discuss this with your health care professional.
Not all side effects of Vectibix are listed above. This list includes common
and less common side effects for those taking Vectibix. Vectibix side effects that
are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not
listed here. Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Contact your doctor or health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should
experience any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Fever or chills during the infusion
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact
your doctor or 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)
- Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
- Swelling of the hands or feet
- Severe rash (causing pain, itching or drainage)
- Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
- Eye irritation
Always inform your doctor or health care provider if you experience any unusual
- Before starting Vectibix treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other
medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins,
herbal remedies, etc.). While taking Vectibix do not
take aspirin or products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits
- While taking Vectibix, do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without
your doctor’s approval.
- Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting Vectibix treatment. Pregnancy category C (use in pregnancy only when
benefit to the mother outweighs risk to the fetus).
- For both men and women: Use contraceptives and do not conceive a child (get pregnant)
while taking Vectibix. Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms are recommended.
Discuss with your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child
- Avoid exposure to sun while taking Vectibix. Use sunscreen, hats and protective
clothing. Sunlight may worsen skin reactions.
- Do not breast feed while taking Vectibix.
- While taking Vectibix, drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours,
unless you are instructed otherwise.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and
eat small, frequent meals while taking Vectibix.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided
completely while you are taking Vectibix. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- Maintain good nutrition while being treated with Vectibix.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects while being treated with Vectibix, 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:
You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking Vectibix to monitor
side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work to monitor
your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of other organs (such as
your kidneys and liver) may also be ordered by your doctor.
How Vectibix 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. Modern targeted
therapy types include the use of monoclonal antibodies and anti-angiogenesis drugs,
both of which are described in greater depth here.
The different types of targeted therapies are 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. Anti-angiogenesis drugs target the blood
vessels that supply oxygen to the cells, ultimately causing the cells to starve.
Researchers agree that targeted therapies are not a replacement for traditional
therapies. Targeted therapies involve production of components such as monoclonal
antibodies or anti-angiogenesis drugs may best be used in the short term, combination
with traditional therapies. More research is needed to identify which cancers may
be best treated with targeted therapies such as monoclonal antibodies or anti-angiogenesis
drugs and to identify additional targets for more types of cancer.
Using Monoclonal Antibodies as Targeted Therapy
Monoclonal antibodies are a relatively new type of "targeted" cancer therapy. Antibodies
are part of the immune system. Normally, the body creates antibodies in response
to an antigen (such as a protein in a germ) entering the body. The antibodies attach
to the antigen in order to mark the antigen for destruction by the body's immune
system. In the laboratory, scientists analyze specific antigens on the surface of
cancer cells (target) to determine a protein to match the antigen. Then, using protein
from animals and humans, scientists work to create a special antibody that will
attach to the target antigen. An antibody will attach to a matching antigen like
a key fits a lock. This technology allows treatment to target specific cells, causing
less toxicity to healthy cells. Monoclonal antibody therapy can be done only for
cancers in which antigens (and the respective antibodies) have been identified.
Vectibix is a targeted therapy that targets and binds to the epidermal growth factor
receptors (EGFR) on the surface of the cell. EGFR is found on the surface of many
normal and cancer cells. By binding to these receptors, Vectibix blocks an
important pathway that promotes cell division this results in inhibition of cell
growth and apoptosis (cell suicide). Vectibix is believed to work when the
tumor cells test positive for expression of EGFR.
Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about
your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this
web site is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical
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